Another point of view: Trump’s tariffs have become Biden’s tariffs

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden said the Trump administration’s trade war with China and head-to-head tariffs are weighing on the US economy and hurting US consumers, manufacturers and farmers. But eight months into his presidency, Biden has not lifted any of Donald Trump’s tariffs, not even those imposed on our allies in the European steel and aluminum industry.

The containers are stacked high in the Port of Los Angeles on September 28. Officials gather this weekend for the first ministerial-level meeting of the new US-EU Trade and Technology Council, and say they hope to reach agreement on steel, aluminum and d ‘other rates by the end of the year. Frédéric J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images / TNS

Which give? The Biden administration has said it will not touch tariffs until it concludes what it calls a “comprehensive review of US-China trade policy.” Fair enough. But what is clear is that the president is in no rush to lift Trump-era tariffs on China and the European Union, which could disrupt steel workers and unions in the states. from the battlefield like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Our beef, in part, is that this cuts against Texas. In 2018, the latest data from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office shows Texas was the state’s largest merchandise exporter at $ 315.9 billion. That’s a 64 percent increase from the previous decade and enough to equal nearly 18 percent of the state’s economy and support more than 900,000 jobs. Steel tariffs may be good policy in the east, but they are bad for the economy here. And while we have to face China on various issues, maintaining many of Trump’s tariffs undermines our relationship with our key allies.

In May, the US and the EU reached a truce on further escalation of steel and aluminum tariffs, but in the same month some 300 US manufacturers signed a letter calling on the Biden administration to go much further and “immediately end the section 232. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on allies of trade and national security in this country.”

US manufacturers, the letter continued, “are currently facing historic shortages of readily available steel and aluminum products and at global prices as the country relies on our industry to help stimulate the economy and overcome unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. . “

The result has been layoffs, plant closures, and steep price increases on everything from automobiles to farm equipment and household appliances like stoves, refrigerators and washing machines.

In addition, tariffs intended to protect the US steel industry from foreign competition were supposed to result in more investment by US steelmakers and more jobs. But those jobs have not materialized, even with increased demand since the start of the year and steel prices close to record highs.

In other words, the Biden administration – much like the Trump administration before it – is poised to impose tariffs, create shortages and increase costs for hundreds of steelmakers across the country who represent more than 6 million jobs for the benefit of some 140,000 Americans. steel and iron workers. Meanwhile, the crisis in the supply chain since the start of the pandemic is also contributing to inflation and rising prices of almost all consumer goods.

And it’s not just manufacturing that suffers. As we wrote in August 2019, thanks to Trump’s trade war, China raised taxes on “electronics, cars and auto parts, planes and their parts, machinery, crude oil, aluminum and steel products; and almost anything grown or raised on an American farm or ranch. . “

It’s no wonder, then, that everyone from the International Monetary Fund to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling on Biden to lift Trump’s unilateral obstacles to free trade and return to a multilateral approach that brings the Organization back. global trade in the fold while rallying our allies in Europe. and Asia to pressure China to comply with international trade rules and standards.

As a group of seven Republican senators said in a letter to Biden in June, an important first step in holding China accountable is to “lower barriers to trade with our allies” while “listening to businesses across the country. who suffered from the crisis. negative economic consequences. Like those seven senators, we urge the Biden administration to “end the self-inflicted damage of the trade war.”

In a positive step, officials are meeting this weekend for the first ministerial-level meeting of the new US-EU Trade and Technology Council, and say they hope to reach a deal on steel, aluminum and other tariffs by the end of the year. Working with our allies in Europe and Asia is the best way to thwart China’s unfair trade policies.


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