Chinese manufacturers demand counter-tariffs on European cars

Following the additional tariffs announced by the EU on imported Chinese electric cars, Chinese manufacturers are now apparently demanding from the Chinese government that it instigate a 25 per cent tariff on large European cars with combustion engines (over 2.5 litres displacement).

Image: Mercedes-Benz

According to Chinese media, the response to the EU special tariffs that was leaked back in May was reiterated on Tuesday during a non-public meeting in Beijing between the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and representatives of six European and four Chinese car manufacturers as well as various industrial and research institutions.

The source report from the insider’s meeting by China Daily cited Chinese manufacturers demanding that higher provisional tariffs be implemented for large-displacement gasoline vehicles imported from Europe. This should be implemented within the scope permitted by WTO rules, and the import tariffs could be raised to a maximum of 25 per cent, which they said is also in line with the goal of green and low-carbon development.

According to Car News China, around 250,000 cars with combustion engines with an engine capacity of more than 2.5 litres were imported to China in 2023. A few days ago, the German Federal Statistical Office announced that 241,000 cars were exported from Germany to China in 2023. Of these, 90 per cent were pure petrol engines with an engine capacity of 1.5 to 3.0 litres and mild and full hybrids, the statistics office has not published statistics on vehicles with an engine capacity of more than 2.5 litres.

During the meeting, a Chinese trade representative is also said to have accused the EU of using the investigation as a pretext to “appropriate trade secrets from Chinese electric car manufacturers”.

The EU has made the special tariffs dependent on the level of subsidies identified in the investigation. If a Chinese manufacturer has received more money from the government (and can therefore, according to EU logic, artificially offer its vehicles at a lower price), the import duty into the EU is higher. In the case of BYD, Geely and SAIC, this has led to very different tariff rates. Those who do not cooperate (and presumably disclose supply chains and business secrets in the process) are subject to a 38.1 per cent special duty, just like SAIC.


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