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The Big Tariff era is here

Joe Biden is about to slap 100% tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles. A 100% tariff is an absolutely huge tariff. It means that Chinese EV makers would have to sell their EVs in the US at half the price of EVs manufactured elsewhere in order to be competitive. That just isn’t going to happen.

A 100% tariff will probably be enough to keep essentially all made-in-China EVs out of the US. The Rhodium Group recently came out with a report called “Ain’t No Duty High Enough”, arguing that Europe would need 40-50% tariffs to keep Chinese EVs out:

Well, Rhodium is right that non-tariff barriers — basically, sneakily crafted regulation that foreign products can’t satisfy but domestic products can — are pretty effective in shutting out imports. And they may be right that 40-50% tariffs will be politically impossible in Europe. But Biden’s new tariff is double the rate Rhodium mentions. That’s just going to nuke all Chinese EV exports to the US.

Now, nuking all Chinese EV exports to the US will result in essentially zero change to anyone’s life. The reason is that China currently sells almost zero EVs to the United States:

So if you’re an American, you weren’t buying a Chinese EV yesterday, and now you’re not going to buy one tomorrow either. Nothing will change for you.

But that doesn’t mean these tariffs are performative. They’re preventative. In the past we’ve seen examples of where China suddenly floods the US or other countries with a massive amount of a certain export product — for example, excavators. Biden’s tariff will ensure that this doesn’t happen with EVs.

So is that good or bad? Are tariffs going to make life more expensive for Americans? Will Biden’s move give a boost to the US auto industry? Will it slow down