US proclaims increased China tariffs, together with 100% for EVs

The White House said on Tuesday that it was increasing tariffs for goods from China worth some $18 billion (roughly €16.5 billion), calling it a response to Beijing’s “unfair” trade practices

“China’s unfair trade practices concerning technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are threatening American businesses and workers,” the White House said. “China is also flooding global markets with artificially low-priced exports.” 

What’s being subjected to more tariffs?

Perhaps the most notable and sharpest increase was for Chinese-built electric vehicles

The tariff will increase from 25% to 100% for these, plus some other extra costs, with the White House citing “extensive subsidies and non-market practices leading to substantial risks of overcapacity” as its rationale.

Electric cars – China’s BYD on the rise

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Semiconductors, batteries and battery packs, some steel and aluminium products, various minerals and ores from manganese to cobalt, and radioactive substances were among the other items set to face increased import costs.

Medical equipment like respirators and face masks and syringes and needles are also included, goods that were for the most part tariff-free until now.

Some of the restrictions will be implemented this year, according to the US government, while others — such as doubling semiconductor tariffs from 25% to 50% — will be phased in gradually by 2025.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that she’d warned Chinese officials of the US concerns and discussed the reasoning on her recent trip to the country.

“These overcapacity concerns are widely shared by our partners across advanced economies and emerging markets, motivated not by anti-China policy but by a desire to prevent damaging economic dislocation from unfair economic practices,” Yellen said. 

US says measures designed to complement green investments at home

Many of the changes focus on China’s emerging power in the renewable energy, battery and electric mobility sectors.

Replacement lithium-ion batteries and battery parts for cars and other lithium-ion batteries will face tariffs, along with natural graphite and permanent magnets for these batteries, solar panels, and several minerals necessary for an array of green technologies. 

“Today’s actions to counter China’s unfair trade practices are carefully targeted at strategic sectors — the same sectors where the United States is making historic investments under President Biden to create and sustain good-paying jobs,” the White House said. 

Can North America launch its own electric car revolution?

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The statement also criticized previous President Donald Trump’s attempt to put limitations on trade with China during his tenure, saying it “failed to increase American exports or boost American manufacturing as it had promised.” 

China is sure to be among the foreign policy issues to feature in the US presidential election campaign in the coming months.

Germany’s Scholz voices skepticism, says waiting on EU investigations

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, visiting his counterpart in Stockholm on Tuesday, was asked about the US decision and whether Germany might be planning any similar steps. 

Scholz alluded to an ongoing European Commission investigation into possible unfair trade practices by China, and said he could not comment concretely with that pending. 

“However I would like to point out that, at least at present, 50% of the imports of electric vehicles from China come from Western companies that produce there themselves and then import to Europe,” Scholz said. “That could perhaps be a difference between other countries and North America on this issue.” 

He also indicated how China was an important export market for European carmakers.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson voiced similar skepticism, saying that imposing tariffs at home was generally “not a good idea for major exporters like Germany and Sweden.” 

msh/rm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)