European Union countries are to make permanent a hike on import duty on Chinese made aluminium wheels.

Due to launch by mid-November, they will replace temporary anti-dumping tariffs that were imposed in May, Reuters reported. At a closed meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, a majority of the EU's 27 states agreed to raise duties to 22.3% from 20.6%, diplomats said. The new tariffs are set to be in place for five years.

"The EU wants to use this case to address what it is calling an aggressive industrial policy by China," an industry source familiar with the case said.

The duties - which are set to be signed off by government ministers within a month - aim to counterbalance what the EU's executive says is illegal discounting by Chinese exporters.

Carmakers have estimated the hiked duties will add over EUR300m (US$386m) to the cost of wheels bought in the EU every year, squeezing profits already depressed by the global economic downturn.

"Ford may try and take this to the highest political level but there is nothing now to persuade the Commission to change its view about the duties," an EU diplomat said.

Last year, EU car makers bought about 35m aluminium wheels costing about EUR1.4bn. About 1m wheels came from China.

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