The source says Biden plans to impose tariffs on China’s strategic sectors

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to announce new tariffs in China as early as next week, targeting strategic sectors including electric vehicles, according to two people familiar with the matter.

According to one of the people, the full announcement, which could come as soon as Tuesday, is expected to largely maintain the current fees. The announcement may also be postponed, the person added.

Specific sectors were also expected to include semiconductors and photovoltaic equipment, according to one of the people.

Details on the exact amount or category of tariffs that would be imposed are unclear, but one of the people said the administration has focused on areas of concern in the strategic areas of competitiveness and national security.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative presented its recommendations to the White House several weeks ago, but a final announcement was delayed as the package was the subject of internal debate, according to one of the sources and an additional person familiar with the matter.

Biden, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, wants to compare his approach to that of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has proposed sweeping tariffs that White House officials consider too brazen and prone to triggering inflation.

The White House and the office of the U.S. trade representative declined to comment. The case was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The measures could trigger retaliation from China at a time of heightened tensions between the world’s two largest economies. Trump’s broader tariff imposition during his 2017-2021 presidency resulted in China retaliating with tariffs of its own.

Biden has said he does not want a trade war with China, even though he said the countries have entered a new competition paradigm.

Both 2024 candidates have moved sharply away from the free trade consensus that once prevailed in Washington, a period that ended with China joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.

In 2022, Biden launched a review of Trump-era policies under Art. 301 of US Trade Law. Last month he called for much higher U.S. tariffs on Chinese metal products, but the target mix was narrow, estimated at more than $1 billion in steel and aluminum products, a U.S. official said.

Biden also announced an investigation into Chinese trade practices in the shipbuilding, maritime and logistics sectors, which could lead to higher tariffs.

The Biden administration is also putting pressure on neighboring Mexico to ban China from indirectly selling its metal products from there to the United States.

China has said the tariff measures are counterproductive and harming the U.S. and global economies.