President Joe Biden would quadruple tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and sharply increase levies for other key industries this week, unveiling the measures at a White House event framed as a defence of American workers, Bloomberg sources said.

Biden would hike or add tariffs in the targeted sectors after nearly two years of review. The total tariff on Chinese EVs would rise to 102.5% from 27.5%, the sources said.

Biden and his staff spent recent weeks finalising the measures, including which items to hit and which to avoid because the inputs were needed to fuel American growth, one Bloomberg source said. The final decision was a consensus, the source added.

It was not clear which items were spared but Biden won’t announce tariff rate reductions, two sources said.

Bloomberg noted the 2024 presidential race loomed large over the flagship announcement: Biden was trying to crack down on China and differentiate himself from Donald Trump whose original tariffs Biden was set to largely renew, but who was seeking widespread hikes the current administration viewed as going too far.

However, Bloomberg noted, Chinese EVs were virtually locked out of the US market years ago by existing tariffs.

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The new EV rate aimed to protect the US from a potential flood of Chinese autos that could upend the politically sensitive auto sector.

Blomberg said Trump had warned Chinese companies would try to build cars in Mexico, then avoid tariffs by shipping them to the US under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which Trump agreed to as president. Trump said he’d put a 200% tariff on Chinese made cars in Mexico.

“I will put a 200% tax on every car that comes in from those plants, and they’re not going to do that,” he said. Trump has also pledged a 60% across the board tariff on all Chinese goods, a move Biden was stopping well short of with allies saying it would fuel inflation.