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US tariffs on minerals leave out markets that China dominates

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden

15th May 2024

By: Bloomberg


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President Joe Biden just unveiled sweeping tariffs on a range of Chinese imports, including more than two dozen industrial raw materials. But the administration is being careful to avoid the critical minerals where Beijing’s grip on global supply is greatest.

The commodities that made the duties list include ores of aluminum, manganese and chromium; rare elements, such as actinium and curium; and metals like tin and zinc. For the most part, the US doesn’t rely heavily on these products that now face a 25% import levy.

The narrow scope of the tariffs should limit the fallout for consumers. And meanwhile, several critical minerals where China is dominant were left off the list.

That includes gallium, germanium and rare earths, where the Asian nation has flexed its muscles in recent months with export controls on raw materials and associated technology. The carve out for those commodities serves to highlight China’s overwhelming dominance in the markets.

The notable exceptions for how the tariffs were put together are for graphite, tantalum and tungsten — all three are materials where the US has a material dependence on imports from China.

The move is part of a broader tariff package Biden announced Tuesday, which also targeted electric vehicles, semiconductor chips, solar cells and other goods. The tariffs on the minerals follow the general picture of a delicate balancing act by the administration — excluding certain goods and carving out a narrow exclusion process for solar manufacturing equipment to avoid choking off the US sector.

Edited by Bloomberg



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