Published: 12:18, May 24, 2024
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Experts: Any hike in nation's tariffs on gasoline vehicles would be 'green'
By Ma Si, Zhong Nan and Li Jiaying
Customs officials check imported cars in Shanghai. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

China's likely plan to increase temporary tariff rates on imported large-engine gasoline vehicles highlights the country's determination to promote green development and conforms to the rules of the World Trade Organization, officials and experts said on Thursday.

The comments came after the China Chamber of Commerce to the European Union said in a post on microblogging platform X that it was informed by insiders that China may consider increasing temporary tariff rates on imported large-engine vehicles to 25 percent at most.

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At a news conference in Beijing on Thursday, He Yadong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said China remains steadfast in its commitment to a green and low-carbon development pathway, and will actively promote and support the transformation of all industries, including the automotive industry, toward more sustainable and low-carbon alternatives.

This commitment extends to high-quality development, with experts from various fields engaging in research and devising strategies to tackle global climate change, He said.

He said some countries and regions are currently straying from the principles of green development and violating market economy standards. Additionally, they are breaching WTO rules by implementing restrictive measures in the new-energy vehicle sector.

"We believe that these measures not only disadvantage consumers in these places but also impede global progress in green transformation and efforts to combat climate change," He said.

Sun Xiaohong, secretary-general of the automotive branch of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, told China Daily that if China raises the temporary tariff rate on imported large-displacement engine vehicles to 25 percent, it would be in compliance with WTO rules.

In 2018, China voluntarily reduced the tariffs on imported vehicles from 25 percent and 20 percent to 15 percent. Such a move was then aimed at promoting development through openness and meeting the demands of consumption upgrades in a better way, Sun said.

Now, China's reported plan to revert the tariff rates on imported large-engine vehicles to 25 percent, if it comes to pass, would be in line with its goals of energy conservation, environmental protection and green development, Sun said.

Any such move would be reasonable, reflecting China's self-restraint in hiking tariffs.

"The reason for self-restraint is clear. If China and the US endlessly impose tariffs on each other, it is easy to fall into a more complicated situation," said Sun.

The US Trade Representative's office said on Wednesday that some of the steep US tariff increases on an array of Chinese imports will take effect on Aug 1, including quadrupling import duties on Chinese electric vehicles to over 100 percent and an increase in the tariff rate on lithium-ion batteries used in EVs from 7.5 percent to 25 percent.

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The USTR office said in a federal notice that a 30-day public comment period will close on June 28.

"The tariffs unilaterally imposed by the US have exceeded that country's trade and social needs, primarily due to political considerations," Sun said. "For example, lithiumion batteries are a product that the US actually needs right now. So why impose tariffs? It is possibly a result of bipartisan competition in the US."

The US has been the largest destination for China's lithium-ion battery exports for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023. In 2023, the worth of lithium-ion batteries exported from China to the US reached $13.54 billion, accounting for 20.8 percent of the total export value of China's lithium-ion batteries, data from the General Administration of Customs of China showed.

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