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Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

EU postpones decision on Chinese EVs, showing internal division

(Global Times)  -- The European Commission has apparently postponed the announcement of findings of and potential measures resulting from its so-called anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), which were reportedly due to be announced on Wednesday, offering a brief breathing room for rapidly escalating trade tensions between two of the world’s biggest traders.
While Western media reports suggest that the delay was due to the European Parliament election from June 6 to 9 and that an announcement would come shortly after the election, Chinese experts said the move highlighted internal division among EU officials, member countries and businesses, which are becoming increasingly worried about countermeasures from China and the breakout of a trade war.
Chinese officials have continued to blast the EU’s rising protectionism targeting Chinese businesses and products, while also calling on the EU to address trade disputes through dialogue and consultation, rather than protectionist actions. The persistent stance of China shows both resolve to take necessary measures to defend its interests as well as sincerity in pursuing talks to handle frictions, experts said.
Various Western media reports suggested that the European Commission was initially expected to announce the findings of its probe into Chinese EVs, which was launched in October 2023, on Wednesday. However, the decision has been postponed to June 10, so as to keep “the issue out of the election campaign phase,” a Reuters report said, referring to the European Parliament election on June 6-9.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Tuesday that the European Commission has told Chinese carmakers that it will impose provisional tariffs on Chinese-made EVs starting on July 4. The tariff rate was not disclosed, and after July 4, the commission has four months to consult with member states to turn the provisional duties into permanent ones, the report said. EU officials have declined to reveal details about the probe and the potential measures. “This is an ongoing investigation, we are not going to comment on it. We will be in a position to announce some provisional elements on it quite soon,” Olof Gill, the EU’s trade spokesman, was quoted by the SCMP report as saying.
The mixed signals from the EU reflect a chaotic scene unleashed by EU leaders, particularly European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who announced the probe despite reportedly facing strong pushback from EU members such as Germany, Chinese experts said. In addition to the reported consideration for the European Parliament election, the postponement also underscores increasingly strong opposition from within the EU, according to the experts. 
“The reasons for the situation are multifaceted. It is not only due to political impact from the European Parliament election, but more importantly also due to the fact that there is no consensus within the EU,” Cui Hongjian, a professor at the Academy of Regional and Global Governance with Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Cui said officials from EU member countries such as Germany and Sweden have recently voiced opposition to potential tariffs on Chinese EVs, “because they do not want to see any tariff move lead to a trade war, which will result in a lose-lose situation.”
During a press conference in Sweden on May 14, both Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced opposition. “It is fundamentally a bad idea to dismantle global trade,” Kristersson said when asked about the prospects for EU tariffs on Chinese cars, adding that “a wider trade war where we block each other’s products is not the way to go for industrial nations such as Germany and Sweden.”


(Latest Update June 6, 2024)

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