European Commission's tariff decision met with wide criticism

2024-06-14 08:55:40Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Following loud opposition against the European Commission (EC)'s decision to impose additional tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports, Chinese government departments and organizations on Thursday urged the EU to immediately correct its wrongdoings and get back to the rational track of handling disputes through dialogue and consultations, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry vowing to take "necessary measures" and China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) stating it reserves the right to resolve the dispute at the WTO.

In a statement, the European Commission announced on Wednesday that it will impose an additional provisional duty of between 17.4 percent and 38.1 percent on EVs from China from early July.

The heavy-handed tariffs, coming less than a month after a decision by Washington to quadruple its tariffs on Chinese EVs to 100 percent in May, will hit Chinese brands such as BYD, Geely and SAIC.

Responding to media reports that relevant industries are collecting evidence to file an application with authorities to launch an anti-dumping probe into certain EU pork and dairy products, MOFCOM said that Chinese industries have the right to file applications for anti-dumping investigations, and relevant authorities will review the applications and file cases in accordance with the law.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian urged the European side to listen to the rational voices from all sides and immediately correct its wrong practice, stop politicizing trade and economic matters, handle trade frictions via consultations and avoid damaging mutual trust and dialogue.

"China has principles that it must safeguard, that is, WTO rules and market principles. China also has interests it must protect, that is, the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese EV industry and enterprises," spokesperson Lin said.

MOFCOM spokesperson He Yadong told a press briefing on the same day that China reserves the right to file a dispute suit against the EU over the EV tariffs.

Observers said the EC's behavior and the roughly handled probe, which was excessive, could invite similar Chinese responses, with retaliatory measures to be rolled out in the near future.

Even before affected Chinese companies reacted to the tariffs, a number of European carmakers on Wednesday expressed opposition to the European Commission's imposition of countervailing tariffs on Chinese EVs, saying such a protectionist move will only harm the European auto industry.

"Countervailing duties are generally not suitable for strengthening the competitiveness of the European automotive industry in the long term - we reject them," Volkswagen Group said in a statement to the Global Times on Wednesday.

The Germany-based group further said that the timing of the decision is detrimental to the current weak demand for battery electric vehicles in Germany and Europe. "The negative effects of this decision outweigh any potential benefits for the European and especially the German automotive industry," the statement said.

A number of EU member countries also promptly issued vocal opposition to the EC decision.

Norway, which has the highest density of EVs in the world, will not join the EU's increase in tariffs on Chinese electric cars, Bloomberg reported, citing Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. "Introducing tariffs on Chinese cars is neither relevant nor desirable for this government," Vedum said in an emailed comment.

On Wednesday, Hungary's economy ministry said the country disagrees with Europe's "brutal" punishment of Chinese EV manufacturers. "Instead of punitive tariffs, the EU should support the European EV industry," the ministry said in a statement.

In a statement on Thursday, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), China's trade promotion agency, said that the European Commission's probe has apparently violated relevant WTO rules and that Chinese companies and industries will resort to legal means to safeguard their lawful interests under the WTO. CCPIT urged the European Commission to immediately scrap its tariff decision and abide by WTO rules, and settle disputes through dialogue and consultation.

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