Biden Administration Action to Increase Section 301 China Tariffs – The Details

Biden Administration Section 301 Tariff Increase Proposal – The Details


  • Biden Administration’s USTR plans to keep all existing Section 301 China tariffs in place.
  • The tariff action also includes rate increases on targeted products, including electric vehicles, solar energy manufacturing, health care equipment, steel and aluminum, and critical minerals.
  • USTR’s Section 301 review report concluded that China’s technology transfer activities warrant a continuation and expansion of the Section 301 tariffs.
  • The report also found that the Section 301 tariffs and China’s retaliatory tariffs had minimal economic impacts on U.S. prices and employment while providing positive impacts on U.S. production. 
  • This article includes details of products, rate increases, timelines, and the background behind the USTR tariff action.
  • For the full breakdown of HTS details within the tariff action, please see the embedded Annex at the bottom of the article.

USTR Section 301 Review Report

On 14 May 2024, the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office announced the results of the statutory four-year review process of the 2018 Section 301 tariffs against China and the decision “to make substantial tariff increases on targeted, strategic products…to fight for American workers, and for our economic future and national security.”

The USTR review determined that the Section 301 tariffs have been effective in pressuring China to reduce its technology transfer activities, but that continued and additional tariffs are needed since China has not completely eliminated many of its technology transfer activities (including cybertheft to acquire foreign technology), which continue to place a heavy burden on U.S. commerce.

The USTR report also found that the Section 301 tariffs and retaliatory tariffs by China have had minimal negative effects on U.S. domestic prices, employment, and the economy as a whole. Meanwhile, the tariffs have had positive impacts on U.S. production in the ten sectors most directly affected by the tariffs. The tariffs also contributed to reduced imports from China directly, and increased imports from alternative countries, diversifying many aspects of the U.S. supply chain.

The USTR tariff action is not yet law.  In the request for public comments, USTR asked for public input on the planned changes, including, whether the new tariff rates for certain products should be even higher (such as with syringes, needles, facemasks). USTR has also asked whether additional HTS codes should be included to cover certain product categories (such as facemasks) comprehensively. The public comment period will close on 28 June, after which USTR will review the results and may amend or confirm these tariff actions before the first implementation date (1 August 2024). 

In its Section 301 decision, the Biden Administration did not reduce or eliminate any of the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods.

The Administration plans tariff rate increases for several targeted product categories. As shown in Figure 1, these product categories include a range of products set to be tariffed at 25, 50, and 100%. The table below shows the start date for each of these new tariff rates. The new tariff rates will be effective indefinitely (unless modified by USTR at any specified point) and subject to a statutory review every 4 years.

Figure 1: Planned Section 301 Tariff Rate Increases

Electric Vehicles (Effective 2024)

Currently, the Section 301 tariff rate on imported electric vehicles from China is 25%. This is the same tariff rate as all other types of motor vehicles. The Biden Administration action increases the tariff rate on electric vehicles from 25% to 100%, while keeping the 25% tariff rate on all other types of vehicles. 

China is now the largest automotive exporting country in the world, recently surpassing Japan. This surge has been powered by electric vehicle exports, which the Chinese government subsidizes heavily. These increased tariffs are part of a wider effort to counter this surge in Chinese electric vehicle exports. The European Union has also launched an investigation into Chinese government subsidies for electric vehicle protection stating, “the global market is flooded with cheaper electric vehicles the price of which is kept artificially low.”

Solar Cells (Effective 2024)

The Biden Administration is also planning to raise tariffs on Chinese solar cells from 25% to 50%. China dominates the global solar energy supply chain, holding over 80% market share in all the manufacturing stages (more than twice China’s share of global solar demand). As previously covered, China’s solar industry is also heavily subsidized and prices are kept low by massive Chinese government financial support.

Syringes, Needles, and Facemasks (Effective 2024)

The action also includes the introduction of some new Section 301 tariffs. There are currently no tariffs on syringes, needles, or facemasks imported into the U.S. from China. The initial plan introduces a 50% tariff rate for syringes and needles and a 25% tariff rate for facemasks. The Biden Administration is looking to strengthen the domestic U.S. supply chain for these products and other medical supplies that were in high demand during the COVID crisis. The more these kinds of medical products are produced domestically, the more stable the domestic supply will be during a crisis.

The tariff modifications are not final yet and in the request for public comments, USTR has asked for input on whether the tariff rates for syringes, needles, and facemasks should be even higher. USTR has also asked whether additional HTS codes should be included to cover facemasks comprehensively.

Electric Vehicle Batteries (Effective 2024)

The tariff rate for lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries and battery parts (of lead-acid storage batteries) is set to increase from 7.5% to 25%. In addition to protecting the domestic market for electric vehicles themselves, the tariff action also seeks to discourage electric vehicle battery imports from China and move more parts of the electric vehicle supply chain outside China. Notably, the tariff increase for lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries is set to rise this year, but non-electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries will only see a tariff rate increase in 2026.

Other Critical Minerals (Effective 2024)

The planned tariffs also include many critical minerals. These minerals currently attract no tariffs when coming from China and are set to receive a 25% tariff rate. 

These critical minerals include the following:

  • Manganese
  • Cobalt
  • Aluminum
  • Zinc
  • Chromium
  • Tungsten
  • Tritium
  • Uranium
  • Chromium
  • Tin
  • Indium
  • Tantalum
  • Ferroniobium
  • Ferronickel
  • Radioactive residues
  • Other radioactive elements (Actinium, californium, curium, einsteinium, gadolinium, polonium, radium)

The move to add a tariff to these critical minerals shows the growing desire from both political parties in Washington to reduce U.S. reliance on China for key areas of our supply chain that could threaten our national security if disrupted. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), “The Energy Act of 2020 defined critical minerals as those which are essential to the economic or national security of the United States; have a supply chain that is vulnerable to disruption; and serve an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the economic or national security of the U.S.”

Ship-to-Shore Cranes (Effective 2024)

Another new tariff introduced in the USTR decision is for ship-to-shore cranes. There is currently no tariff on these cranes and the tariff action introduces a 25% tariff on these items. The reason behind this new tariff is also on national security grounds and a broader focus on U.S. port security.

There are growing concerns about U.S. port security and the cybersecurity threat posed by Chinese-manufactured equipment. These concerns are most focused on Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC), a company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and a major supplier of ship-to-shore cranes for U.S. ports. A probe into Chinese-manufactured cranes at U.S. ports found that they had communications devices installed that could be used for Chinese government espionage against the United States. Zhenhua was also responsible for defective steel construction on the San Francisco Bay Bridge as we reported in 2017. This new tariff will help move the U.S. supply chain and critical goods and equipment outside of China.

Steel and Aluminum Products (Effective 2024)

The tariff plan also raises tariff rates on most steel and aluminum products. Currently, the Section 301 tariff rate on Chinese steel and aluminum products is at either 7.5% or 25% depending on the product. The tariff action raises the rate on nearly all products currently tariffed at 7.5% to 25%. Products already tariffed at 25% will not see any changes. The steel and aluminum products to be included in the tariff rate increase include the following.

Steel Products

  • Iron and nonalloy steel in ingots
  • Semifinished products of iron or nonalloy steel
  • Flat-rolled products of iron or nonalloy steel
  • Bars and rods of iron or nonalloy steel
  • Angles, shapes, and sections of iron or nonalloy steel
  • Wire of iron or nonalloy steel
  • Stainless steel in ingots
  • Flat-rolled products of stainless steel
  • Bars and rods of stainless steel
  • Wire of stainless steel
  • Other alloy steel in ingots
  • Flat-rolled products of other alloy steel
  • Bars and rods of other alloy steel
  • Wire of other alloy steel
  • Sheet piling of iron or steel
  • Railway or tramway track construction material of iron or steel
  • Tubes, pipes and hollow profiles

Aluminum Products

  • Unwrought aluminum:
  • Aluminum bars, rods, and profiles
  • Aluminum wire
  • Aluminum plates, sheets, and strip
  • Aluminum foil
  • Aluminum tubes and pipes
  • Aluminum tube or pipe fittings (for example, couplings, elbows, sleeves)

Nearly all steel and aluminum products currently tariffed at 7.5% are set to increase to a 25% rate, but notably, the following steel and aluminum products were not included in the USTR planned tariff increases and so are currently set to stay at the 7.5% China tariff rate.

  • Flat-rolled products of stainless steel, of a width of less than 600 mm: Not further worked than hot-rolled: Of a thickness of 4.75 mm or more
  • Bars and rods, of high-speed steel
  • Hollow drill bars and rods: of other alloy steel
  • Tubes, pipes, and hollow profiles, seamless, of iron (other than cast iron) or steel: Of an external diameter of less than 19 mm
  • Tubes, pipes, and hollow profiles, seamless, of iron (other than cast iron) or steel: Cold-drawn or cold-rolled (cold-reduced): Other
  • Thumb tacks, of iron or steel
  • Nuts, of iron or steel
  • Safety pins, of iron or steel
  • Dressmakers’ or common pins, of iron or steel
  • Push pins, of iron or steel
  • Sewing, darning, or embroidery needles, of iron or steel
  • Helical springs
  • Table, kitchen, or other household articles: Coated or plated with precious metal, of iron or steel
  • Table, kitchen, or other household articles: Of steel, iron, or cast iron
  • Aluminum doors, windows, and their frames and thresholds for doors
  • Aluminum pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves, and the like

Semiconductors (Effective 2025)

The tariff on Chinese semiconductors is set to rise from 25% to 50% in 2025. This increase in the tariff for semiconductors comes alongside a broader push to boost domestic U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors. The U.S. only produces about 10% of the global supply of semiconductors, and the Biden Administration has been taking steps to address this. The 2022 CHIPS Act made a $52 billion investment in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, research and development, and workforce, including a 25% tax credit for capital investments in semiconductor manufacturing. The impact of this tariff will be modest since most chips imported to the U.S. come in larger devices and do not attract the semiconductor tariff.

There are also concerns within the Biden Administration about China’s ability to disrupt the U.S. semiconductor supply. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said that a hypothetical Chinese seizure of TSMC (a Taiwanese company and the largest semiconductor manufacturer globally) would be “absolutely devastating” to the U.S. economy. The U.S. sources 92% of its leading-edge chips from TSMC in Taiwan.

Lithium-ion Non-electrical Vehicle Batteries (Effective 2026)

The action also increases the tariff rate for non-electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries from 7.5% to 25% in 2026. This timeline is notably longer than the increase for electric vehicle batteries, indicating these products are not seen as being an immediate concern for the U.S. economy. However, the rate increase nonetheless shows this is another area the administration wants to move outside of China over time.

Medical Gloves (Effective 2026)

The tariff on medical gloves is also set to rise from 7.5% to 25% in 2026. Along with the other medical products, the administration is looking to move the supply chain for medical gloves outside China and also hopefully domestically as well. The end goal for the medical products tariff is to ultimately reshore critical supplies so that there would be a stable supply flow in the event of another crisis, but it is not clear yet whether this tariff on Chinese goods will do more to reshore production domestically or just diversify the supply to other foreign countries outside China.

Natural Graphite and Permanent Magnets (Effective 2026)

Natural graphite and permanent magnets from China are currently not tariffed at all but are set to have a 25% tariff implemented in 2026. Natural graphite is linked to electric vehicle production as graphite is used in nearly all electric vehicle battery anodes. Permanent magnets are used in a variety of products, including electric vehicle motors, smartphones, and many defense systems. However, the timeline for these tariffs is longer due to the time needed to develop supply outside of China.

China is the largest supplier and exporter of graphite in the world, refining more than 90% of the world’s supply of graphite. The United States, meanwhile, holds less than 1% of the global supply. The U.S. is also dependent on China for permanent magnets. According to the Commerce Department, “In 2021, the United States imported 75 percent of its sintered NdFeB magnet supply from China.” There is not currently enough capacity to switch to non-China supplies immediately, so the 2026 implementation will give time for supply to develop outside China in anticipation of the tariff in 2026.

The primary goal behind this tariff is to reduce reliance on China over time given concerns about China’s ability to control and restrict access to these critical minerals. In late 2023, China announced it would start requiring export permits for some graphite products to protect its national security. This may give room in the future for China to control and restrict access to critical minerals needed for manufacturing when foreign production threatens China’s economic position. China’s ability to control critical minerals is directly linked to its manufacturing capacity and dominance, and the U.S. wants to lessen this control.


CPA is the leading national, bipartisan organization exclusively representing domestic producers and workers across many industries and sectors of the U.S. economy.

The latest CPA news and updates, delivered every Friday.


Get the latest in CPA news, industry analysis, opinion, and updates from Team CPA.