Amid mounting pressure from U.S. labor unions, President Joe Biden petitioned to his U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Katherine Tai, to triple the current tariff rate of 7.5% on Chinese steel and aluminum under Section 301 of the Trade Expansion Act. American unions are growing increasingly concerned about the U.S. steel industry with Chinese exports sweeping through the global markets.

Chinese products are far lower-cost options at the moment because Chinese policies regarding emissions are far more lax than similar American policies, with The White House calling it an unfair competition. These low-cost alternatives are undercutting American-made steel products and further hurting the American economy.

Five labor unions submitted a joint petition to the USTR to request an investigation into Chinese acts, policies, and practices in the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors. The USTR is launching the requested investigation, aiming to understand China’s aggressive foray into the global shipbuilding, maritime, and logistics sector.

Scarbrough Global President and CEO Adam Hill believes the call for increased tariffs is likely only the first shot against the Chinese market as the U.S. presidential election season continues to heat up.

“My first gut instinct is that this is political posturing in an election year,” says Hill. “In the past election and during his term as President, former President Trump used this type of commentary along with the actual execution of Section 301 tariffs on China.”

Indeed, former President Trump frequently raised tariffs on Chinese goods during his four years in office. With the economy being top of mind for voters on both sides of the aisle, we can likely expect more announcements in this vein between now and November.