WASHINGTON, May 15 – The White House unveiled on Tuesday new tariffs on imports of electric vehicles, solar cells and other clean-energy products from China, in a protectionist move widely believed to imperil the American ambition to enhance competitiveness and slash carbon emissions.

According to the plan, the tariffs on Chinese EV imports will jump from some 25 percent to 100 percent. And with an additional 2.5-percent tariff on all vehicles imported into the U.S. market, the total levies on Chinese EVs will be an astounding 102.5 percent.

Shortly after the announcement, China’s commerce ministry said Tuesday that China firmly opposes and lodges solemn representations over U.S. further increase of additional tariffs on some Chinese goods, and will take resolute measures to safeguard its own rights and interests.

The newly announced tariff hike is mostly a symbolic gesture as the Biden administration is trying to look tough on China amid the increasingly fierce presidential election battle.

The current levies, first launched by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 and reviewed by the Biden administration, have pushed Chinese vehicles out of the U.S. auto market.

Experts warned that the tariff hike would impede the U.S. administration’s ambitious goal to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050, as more expensive batteries and EVs for Americans grappling with inflation almost certainly mean that decarbonization will be slower in pace.

In 2022, the U.S. government introduced its most significant climate law in U.S. history, the Inflation Reduction Act, aiming to provide approximately 369 billion U.S. dollars in tax incentives and subsidies for clean energy industries, including electric cars.

Barring low-priced, high-quality Chinese EVs from entering U.S. market runs counter to U.S. politicians’ aim of protecting the U.S. auto industry, but rather harms industry growth and green transition, said observers and market insiders.

The U.S. auto industry is years behind China in producing electric cars at a low price, they said, and an environment that eradicates competitors does no good to vitalizing U.S. automakers’ new energy innovation.


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