Are Donald Trump’s Tariffs Still in Place?

One of the defining trade policies of Donald Trump’s presidency was imposing a range of new tariffs on imported goods from key countries like China. Trump departed from Republican orthodoxy on free trade by using tariffs aggressively as leverage. This raises questions about the current status of the tariffs now that Trump has left office.

Are any of Trump’s tariffs still active under the Biden administration?

Let’s analyze what tariffs remain and which ones Biden has reversed.


Donald Trump made frequent use of tariffs and trade wars during his term to advance his “America First” agenda. Tariffs imposed by Trump included:

  • Broad tariffs on steel, aluminum, and Chinese imports under Section 232 and Section 301.
  • Specific tariffs targeting goods like washing machines and solar panels.
  • Threatened tariffs used as bargaining chips but not fully implemented on Mexico, Europe, and Japan.

But presidents have authority to quickly reverse executive tariff proclamations. Upon taking office, Joe Biden could have swiftly undone all of Trump’s tariffs. In reality, the situation proved more complex.

Major Tariffs Biden Revoked

Biden did immediately cancel some of Trump’s most controversial tariffs upon taking office:

  • 10% tariff on aluminum from Canada – Revoked on Day 1 of Biden’s term.
  • 25% tariffs on steel from Europe – Suspended 2 months into Biden’s term.
  • Solar panel tariffs – Rescinded after 4 months with Biden citing impact on renewable energy goals.

However, these repeals represented only a partial rollback of Trump’s trade barriers.

Significant Trump Tariffs Still in Effect

Despite liberalization in some areas, major Trump tariffs remain active under Biden:

  • 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminum from most countries imposed under Section 232.
  • 25% tariffs on about half of Chinese imports covering over $300 billion in goods imposed under Section 301.
  • Punishing tariffs on European products like wine and whiskey related to Airbus-Boeing subsidy disputes.

So large swaths of Trump’s tariff regime targeting key trade partners like China and the EU continue presently.

Why Biden Has Left Some Tariffs in Place

Biden has approached reversing Trump’s tariffs cautiously to serve strategic goals:

  • Preserving leverage – Keeping certain tariffs boosts U.S. negotiating strength.
  • Phasing out gradually – A slower rollback helps businesses adjust to change.
  • Addressing trade grievances – Tariffs remain to resolve ongoing trade disputes around issues like subsidies.
  • Avoiding market disruption – Steep tariffs if ended hastily could shock markets and suppliers.
  • Political considerations – Retaining popular tariffs neutralizes anti-trade Republican critiques.

The targeted nature of Biden’s tariff policy reflects a more nuanced rebalancing of trade priorities compared to Trump’s blunt approach.

Ongoing Trade Negotiations Could Cut More Tariffs

Biden could reduce tariffs further as negotiations progress with major economic partners:

  • China Phase One Deal – Lowering China tariffs may require Beijing to purchase more U.S. exports.
  • Europe – Resolving disputes around aircraft subsidies and digital taxes could enable reducing tariffs.
  • USMCA Partners – Reaching new customs commitments with Canada and Mexico could ease tariffs.

So additional tariff relief may come incrementally as bargaining produces concrete wins for U.S. industry and workers.

Will Biden Eliminate All Remaining Trump Tariffs?

It remains uncertain whether Biden will ultimately scrap all trade barriers erected under Trump:

  • Biden risks alienating progressive Democrats and labor unions if tariffs vanishes entirely. But globalists and free trade advocates argue for full elimination.
  • Geopolitics may necessitate keeping high tariffs on strategic rivals like China regardless of economic impact.
  • If trade disputes remain unresolved, tools like Section 301 and 232 tariffs may stay in the arsenal.
  • Midterm election outcomes could influence Biden’s trade policies and incentives around tariffs.

For now, Biden appears to be taking a selectively patient approach to unwinding Trump’s tariff war.


Donald Trump’s heavy use of tariffs marked a major shift in U.S. trade policy. But presidents have wide flexibility in altering tariffs based on current circumstances. Joe Biden rolled back various tariffs right away but maintained others as bargaining chips or while resolving lingering trade disputes.

With mixed signals in polling and his own party on trade, Biden faces cross-pressures on fully abandoning Trump’s tariff regime. Finding the right balance remains a work in progress for the administration. Regardless, Biden’s selective reversal reveals that while presidents can unilaterally erect tariffs, dismantling them often proves more complex than merely issuing an executive order.

Leave a Comment