EU threatens to increase taxes on Chinese electric vehicles from July

The European Commission on Wednesday threatened to impose additional customs duties on imports of electric vehicles from China from July 4, accusing Beijing of having illegally favored its car manufacturers while opening the door to dialogue.

Germany, whose manufacturers are very involved in China, fought with Sweden and Hungary to avoid sanctions against Chinese manufacturers, fearing reprisals. France and Spain, on the contrary, pushed for targeted and proportionate measures.

Vehicles manufactured in Chinese factories were until now taxed at 10% in the EU. Brussels plans in particular to increase these duties to 17.4% for Chinese manufacturers BYD, 20% for Geely and 38.1% for SAIC, after nearly nine months of investigation.

For other manufacturers, an average duty of 21% should apply. Its amount will differ depending on the levels of public subsidies received.

These provisional rates were communicated to the various companies concerned and to the Chinese authorities to “study ways of resolving the problems identified”, explained the Commission in a press release.

“If discussions with the Chinese authorities did not result in an effective solution, these provisional countervailing duties would be introduced from July 4” but they “would only be collected if definitive duties are imposed,” she said. .

Brussels will have four months, after the imposition of provisional duties, to impose definitive duties. But member countries will be able to reject them if at least 15 of them, representing at least 65% of the EU population, oppose them.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Wednesday morning, even before Brussels’ announcement, that a tax on vehicles manufactured in China would be “harmful” to European interests, denouncing a protectionist attitude.

In the United States, President Joe Biden announced on May 14 an increase in customs duties on Chinese electric vehicles to 100%, compared to 25% previously.

Like Washington, the European Union seeks to protect its industry in the face of competition deemed unfair from the Chinese automobile industry which has taken a lead in battery technologies.

The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the opening of an anti-subsidy investigation in September 2023.

“As part of its ongoing investigation, the Commission has provisionally concluded that China’s battery electric vehicle value chain benefits from unfair subsidies, which poses a threat of economic harm to EU producers.” explained the European executive, in its press release.

“Our goal is not to close the EU market to Chinese electric vehicles, but to ensure that competition is fair,” commented European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis on the social network