Imports of new vehicles into China by vehicle manufacturers plunged by over 87% to 15,000 units in June, according to customs data released by the China Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) as it highlights the intensifying trade war with the US.

In the first half of the year, authorised imports fell by over 22% to 452,000 units, while grey market (or parallel) imports also declined sharply in the same period - by 25% to 59,500 units - according to government sources.

The first half import decline was mainly in anticipation of tariff cuts planned for 1 July on imported vehicles, from 25% to 15%.

Imports from the US, however, became more expensive on 6 July after China hiked import tariffs from 15% to 40% in retaliation to similar tariff hikes by the US. 

This will limit the potential for overall imports to rebound in the second half of the year, with the likes of BMW and Tesla having already announced price increases.

However the director of the vehicle import committee at CADA, Wang Cun, pointed out that 80% of imported models are not from the US and these will still incur the reduced import duties of 15%.

It was unclear whether this also equates to import volumes.

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