EU duties on Chinese electric cars come into force from tomorrow. But Germany complains and Beijing remains in a position of strength

EU Duties on Chinese Electric Cars: Germany’s Complaints and Beijing’s Position of Strength

On July 1, 2022, the European Union (EU) imposed new tariffs on imported electric cars from China. This move came as part of a larger trade dispute between the two economic powerhouses, with Germany being one of the most vocal critics of these duties.

Germany’s Concerns

Germany, a major player in the global car industry and a key EU member state, expressed deep concerns over the EU’s decision. According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the new tariffs could lead to a significant increase in prices for European consumers, as well as damage to German carmakers who rely heavily on export markets. Scholz urged the EU to reconsider its stance and instead focus on

free trade

and cooperation with China in areas like climate change and renewable energy.

Beijing’s Position of Strength

Beijing, however, has shown no signs of backing down. Chinese officials have argued that the new tariffs are a necessary response to longstanding EU subsidies for its car industry and an attempt to level the playing field. They have also hinted at retaliatory measures, threatening to impose duties on EU imports ranging from wine and cheese to machinery and vehicles. With China being the world’s largest car market and a major producer of electric vehicles, this stance gives it a position of strength in the ongoing trade dispute.

I. Introduction

The contact Union (EU) has made a landmark decision to impose duties on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), marking a significant escalation in the ongoing trade tensions between Europe and China. This move comes after the EU claimed that China was subsidizing its EV producers, resulting in an unfair advantage in the global market.

Effective Tomorrow

The new tariffs, ranging from 12% to 25%, will take effect tomorrow, affecting a wide range of Chinese EV models. Germany, Europe’s largest economy and a major manufacturer of EVs, has been a vocal critic of the EU’s decision, warning that it could lead to higher prices for consumers and potentially harm the German auto industry.

Beijing’s Stance

China has responded by accusing the EU of protectionism and threatening to retaliate with its own tariffs on European products. The standoff between the two economic giants has raised concerns about a potential trade war and its impact on global markets, particularly in the automotive sector.

Background of the Issue


rapid expansion in the EV market

is a topic of significant interest and concern for many global players, particularly the European Union (EU). This expansion can be attributed to the strategic initiatives taken by Chinese

Original Equipment Manufacturers

(OEMs) over the past decade. These OEMs, including giants like BYD and Tesla’s Chinese rival, CATL, have seen unprecedented global success in the EV sector. According to a report by Statista, China accounted for nearly 54% of the world’s EV market share in 2020.

Description of Chinese OEMs and their global success:

Chinese OEMs have been able to achieve this remarkable growth through a combination of factors. These include substantial government support, significant investments in research and development, and aggressive pricing strategies. However, the EU has raised concerns regarding China’s

trade practices

in the EV sector. One of the primary issues is the alleged use of dumping and subsidies by Chinese OEMs, which have distorted global market prices.

The EU’s concerns regarding China’s trade practices in the EV sector:

For the EU, the

importance of the European market

for Chinese OEMs cannot be overstated. Europe is the world’s second-largest automotive market, and China has been actively seeking to expand its presence here. However, EU countries fear that the Chinese OEMs’ aggressive pricing strategies, backed by significant government subsidies, could lead to a flooding of the European market with cheap EVs. This could potentially harm European OEMs and their domestic industries.

Previous attempts at negotiations between China and the EU:

Despite these concerns, there have been several attempts at negotiations between China and the EU to address these issues. In 2013, during the EU-China summit held in Brussels, both sides agreed on a “strategic partnership” focused on cooperation in various sectors, including clean energy technologies and the automotive industry. However, little progress was made in resolving trade disputes.

In 2016, during the G20 summit held in Hangzhou, China, leaders from both sides reaffirmed their commitment to deepening cooperation in areas like climate change and the green economy. However, once again, trade disputes were not effectively addressed.

In 2019, talks on a potential EU-China investment agreement hit a roadblock over issues related to market access and state subsidies in China’s strategic sectors. The ongoing tensions over trade practices in the EV sector only served to further complicate these negotiations.

I European Union’s Decision to Impose Tariffs: The European Union (EU) made a significant move in the global trade arena by imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from the United States. The tariffs, which came into effect in June 2018, amount to 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This decision was not taken lightly and affected a broad range of components within these industries.

Details of the Tariffs

The EU’s decision to impose tariffs was a response to similar measures implemented by the US in March 2018. The US had imposed a 25% tariff on imported steel and 10% on aluminum, citing national security concerns as justification. The EU’s retaliatory measures were aimed at targeting American products, including bourbon whiskey, motorcycles, denim, and various agricultural goods. However, the most significant impact was felt in the European steel and aluminum industries.

Justification for the Tariffs from the European Commission (EC)

The European Commission (EC) justified the tariffs by arguing that they were necessary to protect EU industries and ensure fair trade practices. According to the EC, the US tariffs violated World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and threatened the EU’s industrial base. The EC also highlighted that the steel and aluminum industries are crucial to Europe’s industrial sector, employing around 320,000 people.

Reactions from Other European Countries

The reaction to the EU’s decision was mixed among European countries. While some, such as France and Italy, supported the move, smaller nations like Austria and Hungary expressed concerns over potential negative economic consequences. Austria’s Economy Minister, Harald Mahrer, urged EU countries to find a diplomatic solution instead of imposing tariffs, stating that it could lead to a trade war. Hungary’s Economy Minister, Mihály Varga, also expressed reservations, arguing that the tariffs could negatively impact Hungarian businesses reliant on US imports.

German Criticism and Beijing’s Response

Germany, a key player in the global automobile industry, has been vocal about its concerns regarding

China’s business practices

, specifically with regards to the country’s treatment of foreign car manufacturers. German companies, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have been subjected to allegations of

discriminatory business practices

in China. One of the major issues raised by Germany is the local content requirement, which stipulates that foreign automakers must produce a certain percentage of their vehicles locally to qualify for market access. Critics argue this requirement is an obstacle to free trade and can significantly increase costs for manufacturers, potentially undermining their competitiveness.

Impact on German Car Manufacturers

The potential impact of these practices on German car manufacturers cannot be overlooked. The local content requirement, coupled with other regulatory hurdles, has led to slower growth for some German automakers in the Chinese market compared to their domestic rivals. This situation has raised concerns among German policymakers and industry leaders, who are advocating for a more level playing field in China’s automotive sector.

Beijing’s Response

In response to Germany’s criticism, Beijing has taken a firm stance, emphasizing its commitment to free trade and fair competition. Chinese officials argue that their regulations are essential for protecting the domestic market and promoting local industries. However, they also acknowledge that there is room for improvement in the business environment for foreign companies. Beijing has expressed willingness to engage in dialogue and find mutually beneficial solutions, but it remains to be seen if these efforts will be enough to address the concerns raised by Germany.

Potential Implications for the German-Chinese Relationship

The ongoing criticism from Berlin could have far-reaching implications for the German-Chinese relationship. Economically, there is a risk of escalating trade tensions, with potential retaliation from China in the form of tariffs or diplomatic actions. Politically, this situation could fuel anti-Chinese sentiment in Germany and potentially impact public perceptions of China. To mitigate these risks, both sides will need to engage in constructive dialogue and find common ground to strengthen their bilateral ties and cooperation.


In this article, we have explored the reasons behind China’s dominance in the global EV battery market and its implications for the EU.


, we highlighted how China’s strategic investments in R&D, subsidies, and local production have enabled it to gain a significant competitive advantage.


, we discussed the potential impact on the EU-China trade relationship, with the EU seeking to reduce its dependency on Chinese imports and promote its own EV industry.


, we analyzed the broader implications for the global EV market, including increased competition and potential trade tensions.

Looking ahead, the strategic implications for both parties are significant. China could further solidify its position in the EV market by continuing to invest in R&D and production capacity, while the EU could seek to develop a more diverse supply chain and promote its own industry through incentives and regulations. However, it is crucial for both parties to avoid escalating trade tensions, which could harm the global EV market and undermine efforts to combat climate change.

Final thoughts

: The EU-China trade relationship in the EV battery sector is a complex issue with significant implications for both parties and the global market. While competition is natural, it is essential to find ways to collaborate and promote sustainable growth. Possible solutions include increasing transparency, sharing best practices, and exploring opportunities for joint ventures and technology partnerships. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a level playing field that benefits consumers, businesses, and the environment alike.