China miffed over electric vehicle tariff tiff with EU

Trade body bemoans move as 'notably unfair' but no countermeasures yet

China has issued a withering response to the EU's decision to raise tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles, describing the move as "notably unfair."

Xinhua, a mouthpiece for the Chinese government, and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade called the proposed tariffs hikes "typical double standards" and pointed out that the EU provides substantial subsidies for its own EV and battery industries.

Despite protestations from China, no firm retaliatory measures have yet been announced. That said, a spokesperson for the trade promotion body was reported as saying that Chinese industries and businesses would defend their legal rights until World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations are applied.

The spokesperson said that the "abuse of WTO trade remedy rules undermines market principles and disrupts global supply chain stability and security."

According to the spokesperson, the tariffs were set to arrive despite the European EV industry not asking for an investigation.

The EU announced the tariffs earlier this week, saying that Chinese-made EVs benefited from "unfair subsidization" from the Chinese government.

A range of tariffs are set to be introduced. BYD's tariff will be 17.4 percent, Geely's 20 percent, and SAIC 38.1 percent. The tariffs levied vary depending on how cooperative the companies were during the investigation. The maximum was set at 48.1 percent for non-cooperative firms – painful but not as severe as the 100 percent tariff demanded by the US.

A recent report warned that tariffs as high as 30 percent were unlikely to significantly affect Chinese EV imports into the bloc due to the potential for profits.

While Beijing has yet to announce any countermeasures, EU exporters are concerned over what form they might take. China started an anti-dumping investigation into brandy imported from the EU in January 2024, despite efforts made by Cognac exporters BNIC and FEVS to demonstrate their innocence of the allegations.

According to the BNIC: "It is clear that the Chinese authorities aim to send a message to the French government by targeting Cognac."

Other EU exports potentially affected by tit-for-tat measures include pork and dairy products. ®

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