Biden administration launches investigation of China exports following unions' request - TAI News
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President of the United States Joe Biden is speaking about proposing tariffs on Chinese steel in his remarks at the United Steelworkers Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via AP)

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the government agency tasked with developing and promoting trade policy, announced on April 17 that it had begun an investigation of China’s activities in several sectors of the U.S. economy.

The department will hold a public hearing on the issue and is currently soliciting feedback from the public relating to China’s actions.

The investigation is in response to a petition filed by a group of labor unions on March 12. In their petition, the unions criticized the People’s Republic of China for its “aggressive intervention” in the shipbuilding, maritime, and logistics sector. The unions allege that China’s actions “threaten to discriminate against U.S. ships and shipping companies, disrupt supply chains, and undermine vital national security interests.”

The group of unions that sent the petition is composed of the Maritime Trade Department, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

“The allegations reflect what we have already seen across other sectors, where the [People’s Republic of China] utilizes a wide range of non-market policies and practices to undermine fair competition and dominate the market, both in China and globally,” Ambassador Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, said in a statement. “I pledge to undertake a full and thorough investigation into the unions’ concerns.”

President Joe Biden mentioned the issue during remarks at the headquarters of the United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

“Because Chinese steel companies produce a lot more steel than China needs, it ends up dumping extra steel on the global market at unfairly low prices. And the prices are unfairly low because Chinese steel companies don’t need to worry about making a profit, because the Chinese government subsidizes them so heavily,” Biden said. “They’re not competing; they’re cheating. They’re cheating, and we’ve seen the damage here in America.” (6:05)

Biden promised that his administration would not allow Pennsylvania and Ohio to experience job losses similar to those experienced in the region in the early 2000s, which he blamed on steel imports.

The White House announced on April 17 that Biden is calling on the U.S. trade representative to consider tripling the existing tariff on steel and aluminum imported from China. The administration said Biden would be working with Mexico to prevent China from importing steel to the United States through that country, avoiding tariffs that it would otherwise be charged.

Since taking office, Biden has signed legislation intended to increase domestic production of iron and steel. In March, the Department of Energy announced that $1.5 billion had been awarded to six projects to pursue production of these materials using more environmentally friendly methods. The awards were financed through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, both of which Biden signed into law.

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