Are EU tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles a sign of weakness?

The European Commission is this week expected to disclose the tariffs it plans to slap on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) over what it says are excessive subsidies – a move likely to prompt stern words and possible retaliation from Beijing.

Less than a month after Washington quadrupled duties for Chinese EVs to 100 percent, Brussels followed suit – announcing extra tariffs of up to 38 percent.

The reason? To counter China’s official policy of boosting its EV sector. Beijing has poured the equivalent of €25 billion in subsidies into domestic firms and research and development – giving homegrown companies the edge over their rivals based in the EU and US.

The European Commission on Tuesday said in a statement that the battery electric vehicles (BEV) value chain in China had benefitted from unfair help that was causing "economic injury" to BEV producers in the EU.

It ordered a provisional hike of tariffs on Chinese manufacturers: 17.4 percent for the world's largest electric car maker, BYD, 20 percent for manufacturer Geely and 38.1 percent for SAIC Motor.

Other electric car producers in China would face an average duty of 21 percent, the commission added. Definitive measures were to be officially launched in November.

Showing 'weakness'

In China, the move was immediately criticised.

"It's projecting weakness to China," Bill Russo, the CEO of Shanghai-based consultancy Automobility, told RFI.

Read more on RFI English

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