'They're cheating': Biden floats higher tariffs on Chinese imports in Pittsburgh speech

Aliya Schneider, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Political News

President Joe Biden announced that he is willing to crack down on Chinese imports in a speech at the United Steelworkers Union headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Surrounded by people holding United Steelworkers and “Standing with Workers” signs, Scranton-born Biden touted his Pennsylvania connections, saying his love for Pittsburgh goes back to his childhood when his grandfather would often speak about the city. He said he visited Pittsburgh when he ran for U.S. Senate in Delaware at age 29, and the steelworkers union endorsed him.

“I’m president because of you guys, I really am,” he told the crowd. " ... I’m proud to be the most pro-union president in American history.”

The announcement came on the second day of Biden’s three-day tour in Pennsylvania the week before the state’s April 23 primary. On Tuesday, he visited his childhood hometown of Scranton and on Thursday he will be in Philadelphia.

While the visit was framed as a White House announcement, it came the day after a campaign event also focused on the economy, a hot topic for swing voters.

In his speech, Biden said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is investigating the Chinese government for anti-competitive trade practices for aluminum and steel. If the investigation shows it’s happening, then he’ll call on her “to consider” tripling tariff rates on the materials from China. The tariff rates for both metals are currently 7.5%

“I’m not looking for a fight with China,” he said. “I’m looking for competition, but fair competition.”

Biden said the Chinese government subsidizes Chinese steel companies, and the companies dump the extra steel on global markets at unfairly low prices.

“They’re not competing,” he said. “They’re cheating.”


China avoids tariffs by going through Mexico, he said, an issue he promised the United States and Mexico will work together to address.

Additionally, his administration is also looking into China’s global ship building industrial practices to see whether the country’s government is artificially lowering prices through anti-competitive prices, upon request from unions, he said. If it is, he will “take action,” he said.

White House officials said the efforts will protect American steel jobs without increasing inflation.

“Taken together, these are strategic and targeted actions that are going to protect American workers and ensure fair competition. Meanwhile, my predecessor and the MAGA Republicans want across the board tariffs on all imports from all countries that could badly hurt American consumers,” Biden said, taking a jab at former President Donald Trump, who has pledged to increase foreign tariffs.

Biden also pointed to union jobs that resulted from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, as well as jobs in the state expected to be created from the Inflation Reduction Act. He also referenced the unemployment rate reaching its lowest point in 50 years during his term.

Trump visited a fundraiser in Bucks County and held a rally in Lehigh County on Saturday — just two days before Biden’s arrival to the state — and has spent the week in a Manhattan courtroom for his first criminal trial.


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