The United States will impose new tariffs on Chinese imports to mitigate the flood of artificially low-cost products dumped onto global markets. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the move targets various materials, including aluminum, steel and solar products.

U.S. and European Union officials fear China is attempting to tackle a subsidy-fueled overcapacity problem in its slowing economy by dumping excess products onto global markets. The Chinese government subsidizes those products (many alleged by U.S. officials to be the byproduct of intellectual theft) to ensure that companies don’t have to turn a profit, White House officials suggest.

“China’s forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft have contributed to its control of 70, 80 and even 90% of global production for the critical inputs necessary for our technologies, infrastructure, energy and health care—creating unacceptable risks to America’s supply chains and economic security,” President Biden says.

With the new rule, the U.S. will increase tariffs on $18 billion of Chinese imports under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Aluminum and steel are among the targeted products. According to Federal officials, the tariff rate on certain aluminum and steel products will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2024. This is due to China’s overcapacity of the materials, which threatens to overwhelm high-quality, low-emissive U.S. products, officials suggest. 

China is also accused of illegal and unfair aluminum dumping practices. In late 2023, the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to continue an investigation accusing China and various other countries of gaining a significant share of the U.S. market by dumping subsidized aluminum extrusions.

Solar cells are another focus. Solar panels have become a boon for the glass industry, with multiple companies, including Vitro, 8G Solutions, Grenzebach and NSG, highlighting their importance. To stave off China’s policy-driven overcapacity, which depresses prices and hinders development, the U.S. government officials will increase the tariff rate on solar cells from 25% to 50% in 2024. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, says the solar tariffs will encourage domestic manufacturing of solar products.

“China heavily subsidized all these products, pushing Chinese companies to produce far more than the rest of the world can absorb and then dumping excess products onto the market at unfairly low prices, driving other manufacturers around the world out of business,” President Biden says.

China’s commerce ministry says Beijing firmly opposes Washington’s tariff move and will “take resolute measures to defend its own interests.” The ministry says the tariff increase is driven by U.S. political considerations.

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