US car im­ports probe faces op­po­si­tion

Chi­nese au­tomak­ers face lit­tle im­pact from ad­di­tional tar­iffs: an­a­lyst

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma Jingjing

A move by the US to ex­plore im­pos­ing ad­di­tional tar­iffs on im­ported cars and auto parts has en­coun­tered wide­spread op­po­si­tion.

The US an­nounced Wed­nes­day that it has ini­ti­ated a Sec­tion 232 in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the na­tional se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions of au­to­mo­bile im­ports that could re­sult in ad­di­tional tar­iffs of 25 per­cent on cars and auto parts.

“There is ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing that, for decades, im­ports from abroad have eroded our do­mes­tic auto in­dus­try,” US Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

The Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com- merce in China de­clined to com­ment when reached by the Global Times on Fri­day, not­ing that “the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has many un­cer­tain­ties and we will fol­low closely the case.”

Chi­nese auto maker Geely Hold­ing Group told the Global Times that it fa­vors open mar­kets.

“Geely be­lieves strongly in the ben­e­fits of in­vest­ing and con­tribut­ing to the main mar­kets in which it seeks to sell cars and ser­vices.” Geely has a fac­tory in South Carolina that man­u­fac­tures au­to­mo­biles for its sub­sidiary Volvo.

Chi­nese elec­tric auto maker BYD – which owns North Amer­ica’s largest elec­tric bus fac­tory in Penn­syl­va­nia – de­clined to com­ment.

Even if the US im­poses ad­di­tional tar­iffs, it will have lit­tle im­pact on Chi­nese au­tomak­ers, Xu Haidong, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers, told the Global Times.

In 2017, the US im­ported mil­lions of au­to­mo­biles, of which China-made ve­hi­cles ac­counted for only around 50,000 units, Xu said. Although China ex­ports more car com­po­nents to the US, they are far from a threat to US na­tional se­cu­rity, he noted.

China op­poses the US’ overuse of the na­tional se­cu­rity clause, as it threat­ens to sab­o­tage the mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing regime and dis­rupt the nor­mal in­ter­na­tional trad­ing or­der, Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Lu Kang said on Thurs­day. “We will fol­low closely how this US in­ves­ti­ga­tion evolves and con­duct a com­pre­hen­sive eval­u­a­tion on its pos­si­ble im­pacts. China will res­o­lutely safe­guard its le­git­i­mate rights and in­ter­ests,” he said.

The US in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ve­hi­cle im­ports un­der Sec­tion 232 “is very hard to un­der­stand,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Vice-Pres­i­dent Jyrki Katainen said on Thurs­day.

The Wash­ing­ton-based US Cham­ber of Com­merce also said it strongly op­poses the move, say­ing “it would deal a stag­ger­ing blow to the very in­dus­try it pur­ports to pro­tect and would threaten to ig­nite a global trade war.”

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