New tariffs imposed on US vehicles

GUANGZHOU: The Chinese government increased trade tensions with the Obama administration by unexpectedly imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on imports of sport-utility vehicles (SUV) and mid-sized and large cars from the United States.

The new tariffs, totalling up to nearly 22% of the import prices, would probably have a mainly symbolic function, rather than reducing the already skimpy sales of such vehicles in China.

Other tariffs and taxes already in place have limited sales of American imports by helping raise their retail prices by about three times what the same cars and SUVs sell for in the United States.

Still, firing a trade volley at American exports of automobiles, one of the most politically sensitive industries in international trade, could only escalate trade hostilities between China and the United States.

China’s move drew immediate criticism from the Obama administration. “We are very disappointed in this action by China,” said Carol Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the office of the United States Trade Representative.

“We will be discussing this latest action with both our stakeholders and Congress to determine the best course going forward.”

China’s Commerce Ministry, which has conducted a two-year trade investigation of the American imports, gave no explanation for its decision to impose the duties.

The duties would mainly affect General Motors, which exports Cadillac SUVs and cars to China; Chrysler, which exports Jeeps; the BMW Group of Germany, which exports BMW SUVs from South Carolina; and Daimler of Germany, which exports Mercedes SUVs from a factory in Alabama.

Because of the high Chinese tariffs and taxes already in place, the vehicles are sold only in the thousands or even hundreds in China, and only to the most affluent. – IHT

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