Campaigning in the American steel capital, Biden attacks Chinese competition

2024-04-18 04:49:03

Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he wanted to triple customs duties on steel and aluminum from China, a political choice aimed at the American working class whom he is trying to seduce this week by campaigning in Pennsylvania.

The Democrat accused Beijing of “cheating” in the global steel trade, harming American manufacturers and their employees, a key electorate for the November presidential election which will see him face, barring any surprises, his rival Donald Trump .

“They are xenophobic,” Joe Biden said in a speech from the headquarters of the USW in Pittsburgh, the historic US steel capital.

The Democrat lamented that Chinese steel companies “don’t have to worry about making a profit because the Chinese government subsidizes them heavily.”

“They are not competing, they are cheating. And we have seen the damage here in America,” said the man who claims to be the best ally of American workers.

“I am not looking for a confrontation with China, I want competition, but fair competition,” Joe Biden further clarified, assuring that there would be no “trade war” with Beijing.

Blue-collar campaign

With one voice, unions and employers welcomed these protectionist measures.

The United Steelworkers (USW) thanked him for his “aggressive” action to defend their jobs.

The union announced last month to support the Democrat for the November election, accusing his opponent Donald Trump of “dismantling workers’ rights”, he who nevertheless presents himself as the champion of the revival of the American manufacturing industry.

More than 40% of manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1990 in Pennsylvania, the historic heart of American industry and one of the six key states which could, in November, swing the outcome of the election.

US Steel, the American steel giant, based in this state, said it “applauds” Joe Biden’s announcement, as did the sector’s employers’ organization. The Democrat repeated on Wednesday his opposition to its takeover by the Japanese Nippon Steel.

The day before Tuesday, Joe Biden had called from his hometown of Scranton for a tax increase for the richest, marking the contrast with Donald Trump. The latter was “very busy at the moment”, tackled the Democrat on Wednesday, referring to the trial which is keeping the billionaire busy in New York.

The Democrat is shown campaigning on the ground, three days of media footage focused on Pennsylvania and its white working electorate.

“False accusations”

But, while Donald Trump has long defended an increase in customs duties against China, his campaign team denounced on Wednesday a timely change of heart by the Democrat.

“Joe Biden has spent his entire career betraying American workers,” a spokesperson for the Republican wrote in a statement. The measures announced Wednesday “are too weak and come too late,” added Karoline Leavitt.

The Democrat prides himself on being at the origin, with a huge law to promote green industry, of the doubling of investments for new factories in the United States since his arrival in power in January 2021, and the creation of nearly 80,000 manufacturing jobs.

And to protect them, the current president called on his Trade Representative (USTR) on Wednesday to “consider tripling the current customs duties”, of 7.5% on average, imposed on part of the steel and Chinese aluminum imported into the United States.

The Biden administration also announced an investigation into Chinese measures in “the shipbuilding, shipping and logistics sectors.”

Beijing quickly denounced “false accusations”.

The American investigation “wrongly interprets normal trade and investment activities as being harmful to national security and the interests of American companies,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. The United States “blames China for its own industrial problems.”

The American announcements come against a backdrop of strong rivalry with China, despite renewed dialogue between the two countries.

Asked whether these announcements would endanger the relationship he is trying to maintain with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Joe Biden replied “No. »

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