Elon Musk criticizes US tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles amid trade tensions

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has voiced his opposition to US tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), days after President Joe Biden significantly increased duties on electric vehicles imported from China.

“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs,” Musk said during a video link appearance at a technology conference in Paris. His comments are in stark contrast to a warning he issued in January, in which he suggested Chinese carmakers would “demolish” their international competitors if there were no trade barriers.

The White House recently announced new measures, including a 100% tariff on Chinese electric vehicles, citing unfair trade practices and the need to protect American jobs. “I was actually surprised when they were announced. Things that hinder freedom of exchange or distort the market are not good,” Musk said on Thursday. He added: “Tesla competes quite well in the Chinese market, without tariffs and without respectful support. I am in favor of no tariffs.”

President Biden has continued many of the tariffs on China imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump while increasing trade pressure on Beijing. Last week, Biden pledged to prevent China from “unfairly controlling the market” for electric vehicles and other critical goods, including batteries, computer chips and essential medical supplies.

China has voiced its opposition to the increased tariffs and vowed to implement retaliatory measures. This week, China launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of a widely used plastic, polyoxymethylene copolymer, from the US, EU, Taiwan and Japan. This material is essential in the electronics and automotive industries.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry's announcement to investigate these imports signals possible retaliation in the ongoing trade dispute with the US and Europe. In addition, China indicated that it could impose tariffs of up to 25% on cars with large engines imported from the EU and the US. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce to the EU cited “insiders” as the source of this potential move.

The European Commission (EC), responsible for overseeing EU trade policy, has set a July 4 deadline to decide on measures against imports of Chinese-made electric vehicles, signaling growing concerns over market fairness and competitive practices .

As global trade tensions rise, Musk's call for tariff-free competition underscores the complex dynamic between protecting domestic industries and promoting international market freedom.

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