China urges EU to reconsider EV tariffs

By Beijing newsroom and Farah Master and Donny Kwok

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing hopes the European Union will reconsider tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and stop going further in the “wrong direction” to shield its auto industry from competition, according to official state news agency Xinhua.

China said it would take measures to safeguard its interests after the European Commission announced on Wednesday it would impose extra duties of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese electric cars from July.

“In light of their economic structure and sheer size, China and the EU are best served by teaming up on major economic and trade issues,” Xinhua said in a commentary.

“It would be more cost-effective for the EU to draw on China’s advantages in order to develop its own EV industry.”

Less than a month after Washington revealed plans to quadruple duties for Chinese EVs to 100%, Brussels said it also would combat Chinese subsidies with additional tariffs ranging from 17.4% for BYD to 38.1% for SAIC, on top of the standard 10% car duty. That takes the highest overall rate to nearly 50%.

Chinese EV car maker stocks mostly shrugged off the news, which was expected. The Hong Kong-listed shares of BYD surged more than 7% in early trade, on track for their biggest one-day percentage gain since November 2022. Its Shenzhen shares rose 4.5%.

“The EU tariff hike result is slightly positive for BYD vs our previous tariff expectation of 30%, which improves BYD’s export growth visibility into 2Q/3Q24. BYD’s EU tariff is lower than other China players, which bodes well for its market share gain in EU,” Citi said in a research note.

Geely Auto climbed 2.5%, Xpeng rose more than 2%, while Nio jumped 3.5%. Leap Motor surged 4.4% and Great Wall Motor’s Hong Kong shares rose 0.4%. In Shanghai, shares of SAIC Motor slipped 1% while Great Wall’s Shanghai stock fell 0.2%.

In contrast, shares in some of Europe’s biggest carmakers – which make a big portion of their sales in China – fell on Wednesday due to fears of Chinese retaliation.

While European automakers are being challenged by an influx of lower-cost EVs from Chinese rivals, there is virtually no support for tariffs from the continent’s auto industry.

German automakers in particular are heavily dependent on sales in China and fear retribution from Beijing. European auto firms also import their own Chinese-made vehicles.

China urges EU to reconsider EV tariffs
FILE PHOTO: A man holds a charging plug to charge a car at a Smart Charge electric vehicle (EV) charging station in Beijing, China February 2, 2024. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has repeatedly said Europe needs to act to prevent China from flooding the bloc’s market with subsidised EVs.

Trade and economic relations between the EU and China are at a crossroads, and it is crucial for the EU to demonstrate a strategic and long-term vision, Xinhua said.

The regional bloc seemed to have left some room for the two sides to continue their consultations to find a proper solution and avoid the worst scenario, the commentary added.

“It is hoped the EU will make some serious reconsideration and stop going further in the wrong direction,” it said.