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Arrows in quiver to counter EU tariffs

EC to apply additional duties of up to 38.1% on Chinese EVs from July

By Cheng Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-13 09:12

A Chinese new energy vehicle on display during an expo in Geneva. MENG DINGBO/XINHUA

China has "abundant" countermeasures against the European Commission's latest tariffs on imported Chinese electric vehicles, and will safeguard the legitimate rights of its companies, said industry experts and officials on Wednesday.

Their comments came as the EC, which represents the interests of the EU as a whole, notified automakers on Wednesday that it would apply additional duties of up to 38.1 percent on imported Chinese EVs from next month.

Sun Xiaohong, secretary-general of the automotive branch of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily that China has abundant countermeasures against the EC's latest tariffs.

"But the country is more willing to negotiate with the EU to avoid a trade war as much as possible," Sun said, adding that the EU's move is rare, unreasonable and does not conform to WTO principles.

Sun said that the EC's motive is not for trade development at all. For example, Tesla has been temporarily excluded from the temporary tariffs and is pending in this respect regarding supplementary materials, which reflects how "targeted" the tariffs are at China's EV industry, he said.

Despite China's dominance in the global EV market, the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU pointed out that China's exports of EVs to the EU accounted for only about 5 percent of its total production in 2023 and notably, these exports are primarily comprised of European and US branded EVs.

The chamber said in a recent statement that the move was "politically motivated and protectionism-driven", as several Chinese enterprises and stakeholders have reported misuse of investigative power and misconduct by the EC during the investigation.

This includes exercising investigative powers exceeding the scope of an anti-subsidy investigation, unreasonable documentation and information requests beyond the enterprises' capacity and burden of proof, and insufficient time given to concerned enterprises to collect requested data and information, it said.

Sun said that as the EU's investigation has never occurred before globally, it is difficult for both the initiators and affected companies to complete quantitative analysis.

"Many Chinese companies don't know how to respond and are worried about privacy leaks."

At a news conference on Wednesday, Ding Weishun, an official from the Ministry of Commerce, said that China firmly opposes any form of protectionism, and will safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese firms.

Ding said that the EU has been leveraging various discriminatory trade means to launch probes into Chinese companies, which will seriously affect the confidence of enterprises in related cooperation overseas.

"Such moves are typical means of protectionism ... but they won't stop Chinese new energy companies from going global," Ding said.

Sun also pointed out that cooperation between EU and Chinese companies will only bring huge benefits to the European automotive industry.

"Cooperation will only help Europe to accelerate their industrial transformation and upgrading. Many European companies, in fact, also hope to cooperate with China's EV sector to achieve win-win results," he added.

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