Biden Administration Sets Up ‘Strike Force’ to Go After China on Trade

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, China. (REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)

The United States will target China with a new “strike force” to combat unfair trade practices, the Biden administration said on Tuesday, as it rolled out findings of a review of U.S. access to critical products, from semiconductors to electric-vehicle batteries.

The “supply chain trade strike force,” led by the U.S. trade representative, will look for specific violations that have contributed to a “hollowing out” of supply chains that could be addressed with trade remedies, including toward China, senior administration officials told reporters.

Officials also said the Department of Commerce was considering initiating a Section 232 investigation into the national security impact of neodymium magnet imports used in motors and other industrial applications, which the United States largely sources from China.

President Joe Biden ordered the review of critical supply chains in February, requiring executive agencies to report back within 100 days on risks to U.S. access to critical goods like those used in pharmaceuticals as well as rare earth minerals, for which the United States is dependent on overseas sources.

Though not explicitly directed at China, the review is part of a broader Biden administration strategy to shore up U.S. competitiveness in the face of economic challenges posed by the world’s second largest economy.

The United States faced serious challenges getting medical equipment during the COVID-19 epidemic and now faces severe bottlenecks in a number of areas, including computer chips, stalling production of goods such as cars.

U.S. agencies are required to issue more complete reports a year after Biden’s order, identifying gaps in domestic manufacturing capabilities and policies to address them.