WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — The Biden administration announced plans to add new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, advanced batteries, solar cells, steel, aluminum and medical equipment.

The tariffs, at least initially, are largely symbolic since they will apply to only about $18 billion in imports. And a new analysis by Oxford Economics estimates the tariffs will have a barely noticeable impact on inflation by pushing up inflation by just 0.01%.

The specific steps include:

  • The tax rate on imported Chinese EVs will rise to 102.5% this year, up from total levels of 27.5%.
  • The tariff rate is to double to 50% on solar cell imports this year.
  • Tariffs on certain Chinese steel and aluminum products will climb to 25% this year.
  • Computer chip tariffs will double to 50% by 2025.
  • For lithium-ion EV batteries, tariffs will rise from 7.5% to 25% this year. But for non-EV batteries of the same type, the tariff increase will be implemented in 2026.
  • There are also higher tariffs on ship-to-shore cranes, critical minerals and medical products.

The tariffs will affect a range of items over the next three years, with those that take effect in 2024 covering EVs, solar cells, syringes, needles, steel and aluminum and more. There are currently few EVs from China in the U.S., but officials are concerned that low-priced models made possible by Chinese government subsidies could soon start flooding the U.S. market.

Chinese firms can sell EVs for as little as $12,000. Their solar cell plants and steel and aluminum mills have enough capacity to meet much of the world’s demand, with Chinese officials arguing their production keeps prices low and would aid a transition to the green economy.

Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council, said the tariffs will raise the cost of select Chinese goods and help thwart Beijing’s efforts to dominate the market for emerging technologies in ways that pose risks to U.S. national security and economic stability.

Administration officials have stressed the decision on tariffs was made independently of November’s presidential election. But Brainard noted in her remarks the tariffs would help workers in Pennsylvania and Michigan, two of the battleground states that will decide who wins the election.

China maintains the tariffs are in violation of global trade rules the United States helped establish through the World Trade Organization.

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