Elon Musk Criticises US Tariffs on Chinese Electric Vehicles Amid Trade Tensions

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has voiced his opposition to US tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), days after President Joe Biden significantly increased levies on EVs imported from China.

“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs,” Musk stated during a video link appearance at a technology conference in Paris. His remarks contrast sharply with a warning he issued in January, where he suggested that Chinese car manufacturers would “demolish” their international competitors in the absence of trade barriers.

The White House recently announced new measures, including a 100% tariff on Chinese EVs, citing unfair trade practices and the need to protect American jobs. “In fact, I was surprised when they were announced. Things that inhibit freedom of exchange or distort the market are not good,” Musk commented on Thursday. He added, “Tesla competes quite well in the market in China with no tariffs and no deferential support. I’m in favour of no tariffs.”

President Biden has continued many of the tariffs on China introduced by his predecessor Donald Trump while increasing trade pressure on Beijing. Last week, Biden pledged to prevent China from “unfairly controlling the market” for electric vehicles and other critical goods, including batteries, computer chips, and essential medical supplies.

China has expressed its opposition to the increased tariffs and has vowed to implement retaliatory measures. This week, China initiated an anti-dumping investigation into imports of a widely used plastic, polyoxymethylene copolymer, from the US, EU, Taiwan, and Japan. This material is essential in electronics and automotive manufacturing.

The announcement from China’s Ministry of Commerce to probe these imports signals potential retaliation in the ongoing trade disputes with the US and Europe. Additionally, China indicated it might impose tariffs of up to 25% on cars with large engines imported from the EU and US. The China Chamber of Commerce to the EU cited “insiders” as the source of this potential move.

The European Commission (EC), responsible for overseeing EU trade policies, has set a 4 July deadline to decide on measures against imports of Chinese-made EVs, indicating a growing concern over market fairness and competitive practices.

As global trade tensions rise, Musk’s call for tariff-free competition underscores the complex dynamics between protecting domestic industries and fostering international market freedom.