China ready to defend interests as EU tariffs on EVs loom

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will take all necessary measures to “firmly safeguard” its lawful rights and interests after a newspaper reported that the European Commission would impose tariffs of up to 25% on imported Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), its foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

After an eight-month long investigation, the Commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation European Union, is expected to notify carmakers on Wednesday that it will provisionally apply additional duties of up to 25% on imported Chinese EVs from next month.

Growing alarm over Chinese industrial overcapacity flooding the EU with cheap products, including EVs, is opening a new front in the West’s trade war with Beijing, which began with Washington’s import tariffs in 2018.

EU trade policy is turning increasingly protective against the global ramifications of China’s production-focussed, debt-driven debt model.

“This anti-subsidy investigation is a typical case of protectionism,” Lin Jian, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told a regular press conference.

“We urge the EU to abide by its commitment to support free trade and oppose protectionism, and work with China to safeguard the overall situation of China-EU economic and trade cooperation.”

“China will take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” he said.

The 25% tariff was first reported by the Financial Times newspaper, which cited people familiar with the matter.

On Tuesday, the China Passenger Car Association called a hypothetical 20% tariff on Chinese EVs “understandable” as the auto sector is a big employer in Europe.

(Reporting by Liz Lee, Joe Cash and Albee Zhang; editing by Himani Sarkar and Jason Neely)