Biden Looks to Thwart Surge of Chinese Imports

The president has proposed new barriers to Chinese electric vehicles, steel and other goods that could undermine his manufacturing agenda.

President Biden is warning that a new surge of cheap Chinese products poses a threat to American factories. There is little sign of one in official trade data, which show that Chinese steel imports are down sharply from last year and that the gap between what the United States sells to China and what it buys is at a post-pandemic low.

But the president’s aides are looking past those numbers and fixating on what they call troubling signs from China and Europe. That includes data showing China’s growing appetite to churn out big-ticket goods like cars and heavy metals at a rate that far exceeds the demand of domestic consumers.

China’s lavish subsidies, including loans from state-run banks, have helped sustain companies that might otherwise have folded in a struggling domestic economy. The result is, in many cases, a significant cost advantage for Chinese manufactured goods like steel and electric cars.

The U.S. solar industry is already struggling to compete with those Chinese exports. In Europe, the problem is much broader. Chinese exports are washing over the continent, to the chagrin of political leaders and business executives. They could soon pose a threat to some of the American companies that Mr. Biden has tried to bolster with federal grants and tax incentives, much of which comes from his 2022 climate law, U.S. officials warn.

In an effort to avoid a similar fate, Mr. Biden has promised new measures to shield steel mills, automakers and other American companies against what he calls trade “cheating” by Beijing.

European officials are struggling to counter the import surge, an issue they focused on this week when President Xi Jinping of China visited the continent for the first time in five years. In a meeting on Monday with Mr. Xi and President Emmanuel Macron of France, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, urged Mr. Xi to address the wave of subsidized exports flowing from his nation’s factories into Western countries.

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