NewsGermany's Habeck wrestles with China over EU electric vehicle tariffs

Germany's Habeck wrestles with China over EU electric vehicle tariffs

The Chinese criticise EU plans to impose tariffs on electric cars from China (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The Chinese criticise EU plans to impose tariffs on electric cars from China (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Images source: © Getty Images | NurPhoto
Agnieszka Zielińska

22 June 2024 13:54

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck is attempting to negotiate a compromise on electric vehicle tariffs during his visit to Beijing. However, the Chinese side is not inclined to compromise. Meanwhile, Germany has highlighted Beijing's cooperation with Russia.

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck faced strong criticism from the EU during discussions in Beijing. According to Handelsblatt, Zheng Shanjie, chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), described Brussels' plans to impose tariffs on electric vehicles from China as "unacceptable."

Economic cooperation 'should not be used as a weapon'

Zheng Shanjie noted that only 12.5 percent of electric vehicles produced in China are exported. "In Germany, this rate is much higher," he stressed.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao was equally critical. He says imposing tariffs on Chinese cars is "an attempt to hinder China's industrial development." He added that economic cooperation "should not be used as a weapon". He also hoped that "Germany will change the EU's mind."

Germany warns Beijing. 'Tariffs are not a punishment'

Meanwhile, Robert Habeck assured the Chinese side that the tariffs soon to be imposed by the EU on Chinese vehicles "are not a punishment."

He simultaneously warned the Chinese government about the economic consequences of cooperating with Russia, stressing that Russia's war with Ukraine has a direct impact on German and European security interests.

He added, "We would proceed differently and certainly not quite as hard when analyzing where we have dependencies on raw materials and technical goods if this war or China's support for Russia in this war did not exist," he emphasised, quoted by DPA.

The politician believes Ukraine-related issues cannot be separated from economic cooperation with China.

He also urged the Chinese side to take the European Commission's findings seriously. "It is important to understand that these are not punitive tariffs," he said.

The EC fears that cheap cars from China will push out European producers

Recall that the European Commission (EC) announced special tariffs on electric cars from China last week, ranging from 17 to 38 percent. The reason is the fear that cheap electric vehicles "made in China" will push European producers out of the market.

According to EU representatives, Beijing "unfairly subsidises" the automotive sector at the expense of EU producers. From the beginning, China has opposed the tariffs and announced measures to protect its interests.

Recently, the EC announced that it had approached Beijing to reach an agreement on this matter. If talks do not agree, temporary tariffs will be introduced starting 4 July. Meanwhile, China has announced anti-dumping measures in retaliation, including against products imported from the EU, such as pork.

The European Union is currently the largest recipient of Chinese electric vehicles, accounting for almost 40 percent of the country's exports.

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