EU’s EV Tariff Hike on China Sparks Trade War Fears

The European Union's decision to impose additional tariffs of up to 38.1% on electric vehicles imported from has drawn criticism from Beijing and raised concerns about a potential trade war. The move follows an investigation into China's state support for its EV industry, which the EU believes is causing harm to European carmakers, reports CNN.

EU Strikes Balance Between Protection and Green Goals

The EU's provisional decision to hike tariffs on Chinese EVs highlights the bloc's increasingly protective stance on trade with China. Western officials are concerned that strategically important industries could be wiped out by cheap Chinese imports. However, the EU must also balance protecting its industry with delivering on commitments to green its economy, including a ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars from 2035.

The European Commission stated, “The EU's green transition cannot be based on unfair imports at the expense of EU industry.”

Varying Tariffs for Chinese EV Makers

The EU has applied different levels of new duties to three major Chinese EV makers:

  • BYD: 17.1% additional duty
  • Geely (owner of ): 20% additional duty
  • SAIC: 38.1% additional duty

Other Chinese EV makers that cooperated with the EU investigation will face a 21% additional duty, while those that did not will be subject to an extra 38.1% duty. , which manufactures many of its cars in China, could receive an individually calculated duty rate at a later stage.

China's Response and Potential Consequences

China's Ministry of Commerce accused the EU of “creating and escalating trade tensions” and vowed to take “all necessary measures to firmly defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”

The new tariffs could lead to intense negotiations between Beijing and Brussels to avert a damaging trade war.

European automakers also face risks, as many manufacture cars in China and sell them in , which will become more costly due to the higher tariffs. Additionally, German carmakers rely heavily on China for sales, and retaliation by Beijing could life harder for them.

EU Member States Divided on Tariffs

EU member states are divided on the tariffs, with and Spain in favor, while is firmly opposed.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned against protectionism and isolation, stating that it “ultimately just makes everything more expensive and everyone poorer.”

EVXL's Take

The EU's decision to hike tariffs on Chinese EVs is a significant development in the global EV market. While the move aims to protect European automakers, it also risks escalating trade tensions with China, a crucial market for many European companies. As the world transitions towards a greener future, it is essential for nations to find a balance between supporting their domestic industries and fostering international cooperation to achieve shared climate goals.

The varying tariffs imposed on Chinese EV makers may lead to shifts in market dynamics, with some companies better positioned to absorb the additional costs than others. The potential for Chinese EV makers to establish production facilities within the EU, as BYD has pledged to do in Hungary, could also help them circumvent the tariffs and maintain a competitive edge.

As the situation unfolds, it will be crucial to monitor the negotiations between the EU and China and the potential consequences for the global EV industry. The outcome of this trade dispute could have far-reaching implications for the adoption of electric vehicles and the pace of the world's transition to a more sustainable future.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all electric vehicle-related news, covering brands such as Tesla, Ford, GM, BMW, Nissan and others. He fulfills a similar role at the drone news site Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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