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biden tariffs

Democrat US presidential candidate Joe Biden has hit out at current president Donald Trump’s tariff war with China, arguing US manufacturing and agriculture have both suffered as a result.

The former vice-president during Barack Obama’s administration (2009-17) is the presumptive Democrat nominee to take on Trump for the White House in November.

In an interview on the National Public Radio’s (NPR) morning news show ‘Up First’, he criticised the current administration for taking a “unilateral approach”, in which the US has “poked its finger in the eyes of all our allies”.

The Trump administration has imposed retaliatory tariffs on the EU and Canada, as well as China, South Korea, Mexico and India.

‘The wrong way’

When asked about whether the current approach to tariffs was a good one, Biden refuted the claim, saying, “manufacturing has gone into a recession and agriculture has lost billions of dollars, that taxpayers have had to pay”.

He admitted there are outstanding issues with China that the international community needs to address, including IP infringement and the requirement for businesses operating in China to have 51% Chinese ownership.

However, he advocated a multilateral approach to tackling these issues, arguing the US has “disarmed” itself by getting embroiled in tariff disputes with its allies, including Canada and the EU.

“The question is what is the appropriate behaviour that they have to engage in international relations, in international trade with us, and they have to play by the international rules”, he said of China.


The Trump campaign has responded to Biden’s comments, saying the Democrat candidate will “surrender” to China by removing tariffs without any concessions were he to win the election.

The campaign website said Biden had “led the effort” to get China ‘most favoured nation’ status at the WTO, whereby member countries must impose the same tariffs on China as they do with all other nations.

Trump argues that the US’ previous pro-China stance has damaged US manufacturing and lost “millions of well-paying manufacturing jobs”.

The campaign called Biden’s latest comments “evasive, nonsensical, and incoherent”.

Has Biden got a point?

A Gallup poll in February 2020, reported in Forbes, showed that the vast majority (79%) of Americans viewed trade as “an opportunity for economic growth”, with only 18% seeing it as a “threat”.

A study by members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors at the end of last year showed that Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium have resulted in around 75,000 fewer manufacturing jobs due to increased costs.

US exports of soybeans to China have also declined by 74% since 2018, reports Forbes.