US trade office and Joe Biden target China’s steel, maritime and logistics sectors in latest trade war battles

US trade office and Joe Biden target China’s steel, maritime and logistics sectors in latest trade war battles

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for tripling the existing tariff rate on Chinese steel and aluminium, just as the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office announced the launch of yet another Section 301 investigation into China’s maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors.

Biden told the USTR to raise the tariff on steel and aluminium imports from China – already under Trump-era duties – from 7.5 per cent to 22.5 per cent, according to a statement by the White House.

He also sent senior envoys to pressure Mexico to prevent Chinese steel and aluminium from transferring through Mexico to evade tariffs.

Biden’s move was made public just ahead of his visit to the headquarters of the United Steelworkers Union in Pittsburgh as part of his re-election campaign in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

US-China all-out trade war unlikely but soft-power gap will persist: Joseph Nye

The new investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 was launched after reviewing a “serious and concerning” petition by five national labour unions accusing China of using “unfair, non-market policies and practices” to “dominate the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors”, the USTR office said.

“The allegations reflect what we have already seen across other sectors, where [China] utilises a wide range of non-market policies and practices to undermine fair competition and dominate the market, both in China and globally,” US trade representative Katherine Tai was quoted as saying.

“I pledge to undertake a full and thorough investigation into the unions’ concerns.”

A Section 301 investigation examines whether a foreign government’s acts, policies, or practices are unreasonable or discriminatory, and whether they burden or restrict US commerce.

If the investigation determines foreign practices have unfairly affected US commerce, the USTR may take “appropriate and feasible action” to remedy the unfair practices, including imposing duties and other import restrictions such as fees.

The USTR was seeking public comments and would hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation, the statement said.

The USTR added that it had requested consultations with the Chinese government about the investigation.

US review of US$300 billion worth of Chinese imports almost done: trade envoy

The 137-page petition, along with hundreds of supporting documents, was presented to the USTR office on March 12.

The petition lists the Chinese government’s actions, including providing loans from state-owned banks, equity infusions and tax preferences as well as provisioning steel at below-market prices and issuing loans to support the construction of thousands of vessels in China for export.

It highlights some “unfair” practices by Beijing, including ordering Chinese companies to buy and use Chinese-built products, directing mergers, and blocking alliances with foreign companies.

The coalition of labour unions includes the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and the Maritime Trades Department.

The petition was also endorsed by two US senators, Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

During his administration from 2017 to 2021, former US president Donald Trump launched various Section 301 investigations into Chinese imports and imposed punitive tariffs, which triggered retaliation by China and began a trade war that continues today.



Read More

Leave a Reply