Chinese automakers have reportedly urged Beijing to hike tariffs on petrol engine cars imported from the EU, according to a Chinese newspaper report. The move would be in response to new planned EU import tariffs applying to Chinese made electric vehicles – which a Brussels probe has concluded benefit from anti-competitive subsidies.

A response by Beijing to the new EU tariffs is still being considered, but the Global Times reported that a Chinese auto industry insider suggested that China should consider raising the temporary tariff rate on imported cars with large-displacement engines. Such a move would directly impact imported cars from Europe in the world’s largest market, especially premium models (the German auto industry is, unsurprisingly, voicing concern over the new EU duties and the dangers of a tit-for-tat trade war between China and the EU).

Reuters reported that in a meeting of car companies, China’s auto industry called on the government to adopt firm countermeasures [to the EU China BEV tariffs] and suggested that positive consideration be given to raising China’s provisional tariff on gasoline cars with large-displacement engines.

Sources also told the pro-Beijing Global Times that relevant Chinese industries are collecting evidence, as they plan to request anti-dumping investigations into certain EU pork and dairy products.

Chinese ministries and industry bodies have sharply criticised the EU’s decision and vowed to take all necessary measures to defend the interests of Chinese companies. However, analysts also say the Chinese want to avoid an escalation of trade tensions with Europe, which would harm core Chinese economic interests.

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