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Both Biden And Trump Want Tariffs on Chinese Imports — But Biden's Are More Focused

After criticizing former president Donald Trump for promising to amp up tariffs on imports if he wins the 2024 election, the White House on Tuesday announced its own round of tariffs targeted at a variety of Chinese good.

President Joe Biden has said Trump’s ideas would worsen inflation, because the tariffs the Republican has proposed would simply be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. But Biden administration officials claimed Biden’s own new tariffs were so narrowly targeted they would avoid that.

“There’s no inflationary impact on these actions,” a senior administration official told reporters on a press call. “They’re mainly targeting strategic sectors where we are ramping up domestic investment.”

That distinction may be key. Biden kept most of Trump’s China tariffs in place when he took office — despite saying Trump was “going after China the wrong way” by imposing them — leading critics to charge him with hypocrisy. Now, the White House is trying to avoid being seen as flip-flopping or following Trump’s lead in the free trade debatewhile still hitting China.

With the exception of electric vehicle batteries, though, the new Biden tariffs would affect sectors that don’t make up a significant portion of the U.S. economy, economists say.

“The tariffs announced today on US imports from China won’t cause much direct economic damage since trade in the affected goods is already low. But US economic sanctions on China seem to act like a ratchet: they only ever get tighter,” wrote Mark Williams, chief Asia economist with Capital Economics, an analytical and consulting firm, in a client note.

With the tariffs expected to hit only about $18 billion worth of goods in a $25 trillion economy, “You’re not

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