The trade dispute between the USA and China has reached a new level of escalation with the press release of 14 May 2024 regarding the adjustment of tariffs on certain goods originating in China. Among other things, the Biden administration is quadrupling the special tariffs on electric cars from China from 25 to 100 per cent.

The director of the White House’s National Economic Council, Lael Brainard, justifies this measure by pointing at the Chinese government’s unfair subsidization policy, which distorts international competition. According to Brainard, Chinese car manufacturers are thus able to offer their vehicles at lower prices than other car companies. This thesis is supported by the 70 per cent increase in Chinese electric car exports in 2023.

In addition to electric cars, other products are affected by tariff increases/new tariffs:

  • Semiconductors (from 25 to 50 per cent by 2025)
  • Solar cells (from 25 to 50 per cent)
  • Batteries – lithium-ion batteries for electric cars (from 7.5 to 25 per cent by 2026)
  • Electronic components such as magnets (from 0 to 25 per cent by 2026)
  • Medical protective masks (from a maximum of 7.5 to 25 per cent)
  • Medical gloves (from 7.5 to 24 per cent by 2026)
  • Syringes and needles (from 0 to 50 per cent)
  • Steel and aluminum (from 7.6 to 25 percent)
  • Harbor cranes (from 0 to 25 percent)
  • Graphite and other critical raw materials (25 per cent)

The results of a current investigation by the EU Commission relating to competition-distorting economic practices by China on the electric car market are not yet available. Whether the EU will also impose punitive tariffs remains to be seen for the moment.


Source: GTAI (in German), Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, FAZ (in German)