Sponsored By

Tariffs Threaten Chinese OEM Growth Potential

The European Union and Turkey join the United States in imposing tariffs due to perceived excess levels of Chinese government support.

Stephen Moore

June 25, 2024

2 Min Read
US-, EU-, and China-branded containers colliding
wildpixel/iStock via Getty Images

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers are facing increasing challenges to their efforts to access global markets, as key existing and potential markets start to throw up tariff barriers.

The United States closed its borders to Chinese EVs before they even hit US highways, imposing total tariffs amounting to a rate of 102.5%, despite extremely low levels of imports. Canada, with its tight ties to the US auto sector, also reportedly is considering new tariffs, while Washington assesses the possibility that Chinese OEMs might try to circumvent US tariffs by shifting production to Mexico to take advantage of the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement.

Further, the European Union (EU) imposed an at least 17.4% tariff on top of the existing 10%, taking the top rate to 38.1%. Turkey is also getting in on the act, taxing imports of both EVs and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles at 40%.

Chinese government support exceeds $230 billion.

The common theme among these tariff-taking countries is the perception that Chinese EV OEMs have enjoyed unfair support from the country’s government to develop the EV sector. Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), estimates that from 2009 to 2023, Chinese government support cumulatively totaled $230.8 billion through nationally approved buyer rebates, exemption from the 10% sales tax, government funding for infrastructure (primarily charging poles), R&D programs for EV makers, and government procurement of EVs.

Related:We Need to Talk About China, Again

In a recent blog post, Kennedy said this estimate was highly conservative as it didn’t include support at the local government level, such as municipal level rebates; low-cost land, electricity, and credit; equity financing from provincial governments; and subsidies for other parts of the supply chain, including for miners and processors of raw materials, chemicals producers, and battery manufacturers.

China now has a beef with EU pork and Taiwanese POM.

In what was viewed as a retaliatory move, China recently launched an investigation reviewing imports of pork from the EU. China's potential special tariffs on pork from the EU would primarily affect Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France, which, with Spain, is by far the largest European supplier of pork. In 2023, Spanish pork exports to China were valued at around $1.5 billion out of total EU exports of $6 billion. According to local Chinese press reports, Chinese authorities are also considering raising import duties on luxury cars from the EU from 15% to 25%.

Earlier, on May 19, China launched an anti-dumping investigation into polyacetal (POM) resin imports from Taiwan on the eve of the inauguration of incoming president Lai Ching-te. Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics is a leading supplier of POM resin and was cited in the case, along with the European operations of Celanese, and Japan's Polyplastics, Asahi Kasei, and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical. The three Japanese companies also produce POM in China and, thus, would be cushioned from any tariffs implemented.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like