Biden sharply hikes tariffs on Chinese EVs and tech imports

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Good morning. President Joe Biden is sharply raising tariffs on Chinese imports, ranging from electric vehicles to solar cells, in a pre-election effort to protect US jobs.

The White House said $18bn of Chinese goods would be hit by the rises, which were “carefully targeted at strategic sectors” and designed to buy time for US companies to catch up with Chinese rivals in green technology.

In one of the biggest moves, the US will quadruple the tariff on Chinese EVs to 100 per cent this year.

Speaking at the White House in front of leaders of several US labour unions, Biden said China had engaged in “cheating” by employing unfair trade practices, including for EVs, and also with cyber espionage.

“Whether it’s gas, electric or hybrid, we’re never going to allow China to unfairly control the market for these cars — period,” the president said. Here are the sectors targeted by the tariffs, plus how Beijing and business groups responded.

  • Tariffs explainer: Biden’s new tariffs are designed to appeal to blue-collar voters in America’s electoral swing states — but they will have ramifications far beyond the US.

  • Great Wall Motor exec hits out: A senior executive at one of China’s biggest privately owned carmakers has said the west’s claims of overcapacity in the Chinese car industry is a “fake concept”.

  • EV tie-up: Stellantis plans to sell EVs made by China’s Leapmotor at its European dealerships from September in an unusual attempt to capitalise on the ambitions of Chinese manufacturers to crack the regional market.

And here’s what I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Singapore’s new leader: Lee Hsien Loong steps down to be replaced by Lawrence Wong, the first new prime minister in 20 years.

  • China key rate decision: The People’s Bank of China makes its Medium-term Lending Facility rate announcement.

  • Economic data: The US reports CPI inflation data and retail sales figures, while Russia publishes its first-quarter GDP estimate.

  • Holiday: Financial markets are closed in Hong Kong and South Korea for Buddha’s Birthday.

Five more top stories

1. Vladimir Putin will visit China tomorrow, marking his first foreign trip since he was sworn in for a fifth presidential term last week. The two-day visit to Beijing will be the 43rd time Putin will have met President Xi Jinping, and comes as China plays a growing role in supporting the Russian economy amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

  • Opinion: Putin’s trip may show US sanction threats over Chinese support of the Russian war machine are wishful thinking, writes Alexandra Prokopenko of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.

2. Anglo American plans to thwart BHP’s £34bn takeover bid by breaking itself up. Chief executive Duncan Wanblad told the FT he had a “long” meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as Anglo sought to rebuff a proposed acquisition by the Australian mining company.

  • Go deeper: Anglo’s radical plan to fend off BHP faces many hurdles, but whatever happens, the 107-year-old miner will not be the same again.

3. Google owner Alphabet has unveiled its “Project Astra” artificial intelligence assistant that can answer real-time queries across video, audio and text. In a video demonstration, it successfully identified sequences of code, recognised the King’s Cross neighbourhood of London through the camera lens, and reminded the user where they had left their glasses.

4. Iran has shown a willingness to engage in “serious dialogue” with the UN’s nuclear watchdog for the first time in more than a year, according to the agency’s head. Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the FT that the watchdog could be entering a “different phase” with Iran, in a sign the country is seeking to ease tensions with the US.

5. Western pharmaceutical companies need to tap into “mind-bogglingly impressive innovation” in China, the chief executive of Genmab, one of Europe’s leading biotech companies, has said. Jan van de Winkel argued that “anti-Chinese sentiment” in US life sciences should not deter dealmaking.

The Big Read

Iranians brandish portraits of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, background, and former supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, foreground, at a rally in Tehran
© Vahid Salemi/AP

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has exercised extraordinary religious authority over Iran for more than three decades as the Islamic republic’s foremost spiritual and political leader. But the question of who will succeed him is coming into sharper focus after he turned 85 in April. The country’s power brokers are quietly mapping out the post-Khamenei handover, a succession that will be a moment of existential risk to the regime.

We’re also reading and listening to . . . 

  • Hong Kong: The territory needs more options to resolve debt problems than simply “lose-lose” liquidations, writes Chan Ho-him.

  • China’s Silicon Valley🎧: How did China go from tech imitator to innovator? The FT’s James Kynge reports from Shenzhen on the country’s tech success stories. Listen to the Tech Tonic podcast here or read the transcript.

  • Net zero banking: Can banks really fix the climate crisis? New research makes for sobering reading, writes Katie Martin.

Chart of the day

Shares in video game retailer GameStop and cinema group AMC Entertainment surged again yesterday, extending a ferocious “meme stock” rally that was sparked this week by the re-emergence of a popular day trader.

Column chart of Daily value traded (multiple of share price by volume), $bn showing Trading in GameStop rockets

Take a break from the news

Manderley Press is known for reprinting forgotten books on memorable landmarks and locations. It began in 2021 when independent book publisher Rebeka Russell launched it from her home, a charming yellow-brick gabled house in south London that is a story on its own.

Manderley Press founder Rebeka Russell at home in south London
Manderley Press founder Rebeka Russell at home in south London © Genevieve Lutkin

Additional contributions from Irwin Cruz and David Hindley

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