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According to Germany, the EU is open to talking to China about tariffs

According to Germany, the EU is open to talking to China about tariffs
According to Germany, the EU is open to talking to China about tariffs

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck stated during his visit to China on Saturday that the door of the European Union is open to discussions on community tariffs on Chinese exports.

“What I have suggested to my Chinese partners today is that the doors are open for discussions and I hope this message has been heard,” he said in his first statement in Shanghai, after meeting Chinese officials in Beijing.

Habeck’s visit is the first by a senior European official since Brussels proposed heavy tariffs on imports of electric vehicles (EVs) made in China to combat what the EU considers excessive subsidies.

Habeck said there is time for dialogue between the EU and China before the tariffs come into full effect in November and that he believes in open markets, but that markets require a level playing field. Proven subsidies that seek to increase the export advantages of companies cannot be accepted, he commented.

Another point of tension between Beijing and Berlin is China’s support for Russia in its war in Ukraine. Habeck noted that Chinese trade with Russia increased more than 40% last year.

Habeck said he told Chinese officials that this is taking a toll on their economic relationship. “Circumvention of sanctions imposed on Russia is not acceptable,” she said, adding that technical goods produced in Europe should not end up on the battlefield via other countries.

Provisional EU tariffs of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese EVs will begin to apply on July 4 and the investigation will continue until November 2, when final rates, typically for five years, could be imposed.

“This opens a phase in which negotiations are possible, discussions are important and dialogue is necessary,” Habeck said.

The EU’s proposed tariffs on Chinese goods are not a “punishment,” Habeck previously told Chinese officials earlier in Beijing. “It is important to understand that these are not punitive tariffs,” he said in the first plenary session of a dialogue on climate and transformation.

Countries such as the United States, Brazil and Türkiye have used punitive tariffs, but not the EU, he noted. “Europe does things differently.”

Habeck said the European Commission had examined in detail for nine months whether Chinese companies had unfairly benefited from subsidies. Any countervailing levy measures resulting from the EU review “are not punishment,” she said, adding that such measures are intended to offset advantages granted to Chinese companies.

Zheng Shanjie, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, responded: “We will do our best to protect Chinese companies.”

According to China, EU tariffs “harm both sides”

The EU’s proposed tariffs on Chinese EVs will hurt both sides, Zheng added. Likewise, she told Habeck that she hopes Germany will demonstrate its leadership in the EU and “do the right thing.”

He also denied accusations of unfair subsidies, stating that the development of China’s new energy industry was the result of vast advantages in technology, market and industry supply chains, fostered in fierce competition.

The industry’s growth “is the result of competition, rather than subsidies, let alone unfair competition,” Zheng said during the meeting.

Following his meeting with Zheng, Habeck spoke with Chinese Trade Minister Wang Wentao, who said he would discuss the tariffs with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis on Saturday afternoon via video conference.

“There is room for maneuver, there is room for discussion and I hope that this room for maneuver is taken advantage of,” Habeck said.

Source: Ambito

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