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The higher import tariffs should give European automakers more breathing space.

The European Commission has announced that import taxes for Chinese electric cars into the European Union will be significantly increased from July 4. The increase is a response to what the European Commission sees as unfair competitive advantages for Chinese car manufacturers, which they say benefit from significant subsidies.

The new rates vary depending on the make of the car. The import tax for BYD will be 17,4 percent, for Geely 20 percent and for Saic, owner of MG, among others, no less than 38,1 percent. Other Chinese brands face tariffs ranging from 21 to 38,1 percent. This is in addition to the existing rate of 10 percent, which could increase total levies to a maximum of 48,1 percent.

The European Commission argues that these increases are necessary to protect European car makers. According to the Commission, Chinese car manufacturers would benefit from a series of subsidies that allow them to offer their vehicles at lower prices. These subsidies include favorable loans, tax exemptions, and cheap access to raw materials such as lithium, which is crucial for battery production.

“European carmakers are threatened by the unfair subsidies their Chinese competitors receive,” the Commission said. The benefits that Chinese manufacturers receive allow them to offer their cars at prices that European companies would find difficult to match.

The increase in import tariffs is provisional and applies while the European Commission's investigation into subsidies to Chinese car makers is ongoing. The Member States will decide on the final rates at the beginning of November. These rates could then be adjusted or even eliminated entirely, depending on the outcome of the vote among member states. A qualified majority is required to definitively set the rates.

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Chinese car manufacturers have the option to challenge this measure at the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, the outcome of such a challenge may take some time, meaning that the increased rates will remain in force for the time being.

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The decision to increase tariffs comes at a time of growing trade tensions between Europe and China. Europe is increasingly concerned about the impact of Chinese subsidies on the market and is trying to protect its own industry from what it sees as unfair trade practices. The move is one of many measures the EU has taken in recent years to protect domestic industries from foreign competition.

It is still unclear what rate will apply to Tesla, which also produces in China. Tesla, as a major player in the electric vehicle market, could be significantly affected by these new tariffs, depending on the final decisions of the European Commission and the Member States.

This decision is likely to further fuel the debate over trade practices and industrial subsidies. The implications are significant for European carmakers as well as for Chinese manufacturers and consumers, who may pay higher prices for electric vehicles.

The next few months will be crucial in determining how these new tariffs will affect the market and whether further steps will be taken by both sides to stabilize trade relations.

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