China agrees to negotiate with the EU on electric vehicle tariffs

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China has agreed to participate in negotiations with the EU over the decision to impose higher tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle imports, during the German deputy chancellor’s visit to Beijing to ease tensions.

Robert Habeck, minister for economic affairs and climate action, welcomed China’s move to enter discussions with Brussels on EU tariffs but said it was “a first step and will take many another step”.

His comments came after China’s commerce ministry said Beijing and Brussels had agreed to conduct consultations on an anti-subsidy investigation launched by the EU last year. The investigation led to a decided this month increased tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles to 48%.

The announcement followed a video conference between Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao and EU executive vice president and trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.

Germany has criticized the EU’s decision to increase tariffs on electric vehicles imported from China and Habeck is the first senior European politician to visit the country since the additional tariffs were announced.

The Chinese market is hugely important to Germany’s vast auto manufacturing industry, making Berlin particularly vulnerable to any retaliatory measures by Beijing, which has announced an anti-dumping investigation prices for EU pork products.

While he made a reconciliation tone on tariffsStill incomplete, Habeck criticized China’s growing exports to Russia and cited German efforts to block exports of “dual-use” goods with potential military applications.

“I looked at the trade figures and saw that China’s trade with Russia increased by more than 40% last year,” he said. “Of course energy is a high part [of] it, but about half of it involves dual-use goods.”

“These are technical goods that can be used on the battlefield and this must stop,” he said.

China is one of Germany’s biggest trading partners and Berlin has sought to carefully navigate rising tensions between Beijing and Washington that have sharply increased after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. .

Habeck also visited Beijing, where he met with Wang Wentao and Zheng Shenjie, head of the National Development and Reform Commission. He said they talked about energy and climate issues as well as human rights with Chinese officials as part of “intense discussions.” The expected meeting with Prime Minister Li Qiang did not materialize.

On Sunday, Germany’s deputy chancellor said China should find a safe alternative to coal after the country ramped up production of the carbon-intensive fuel source. “Without China, it will be impossible to achieve global climate goals,” he said, according to a Reuters report.

President Joe Biden imposed a 100% tariff on Chinese electric vehicles this year, higher than the EU, even though the US imports in much smaller quantities.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, met with President Xi Jinping in April and encouraged the Chinese president to pressure Russia to end its campaign in Ukraine. Scholz does also recommended Li to gain greater market access for German companies on the mainland.

Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have praised their close relationship and vowed to increase trade. Russia became China’s fifth-largest single-country trading partner last year, up from ninth in 2020, when trade reached $240 billion. According to official data, China’s exports to Russia increased by 46.9% in 2023 compared to the same period last year.


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