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        Beijing voices concern over EU EV tariffs

        By ZHONG NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-15 09:22
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        Vehicles from Chinese brands wait to be exported from a port in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

        China will closely monitor the European Union's subsequent actions and firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of its companies, after the European Commission implemented a special Customs registration process targeting Chinese-made electric vehicles, said the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

        Implemented on March 7, this EU policy could potentially affect China's EV exports to Europe, as it may lead to punitive tariffs, according to market watchers and media reports.

        "We have noticed this move. China expresses high concern over this and the industry is extremely worried about the potential retroactive tariff measures that the EU may take in the future," said He Yadong, a spokesman for the ministry.

        The commerce official said that Chinese EV exporters have reported that their export volume to the EU is in line with the changes in the EU's EV consumption, and there is no so-called "surge in imports" or "damage" to the EU market.

        The EU's import registration measures and possible retroactive tariffs create a burden on imports, adding obstacles to normal trade flows. This is not conducive to deepening cooperation in the new energy industry between both sides, and will also affect the interests of EU consumers, he added.

        "China has always insisted on resolving mutual concerns through dialogue and consultation to achieve mutual benefits and win-win results. We hope that the EU will use trade remedy measures prudently, building a more stable and healthy environment for the development of the EV industry in China and the EU," said He.

        According to data from the General Administration of Customs, the European Union remained China's second-largest trading partner in the first two months, with total trade value between China and the EU amounting to 832.39 billion yuan ($115.75 billion), declining 1.3 percent year-on-year, accounting for 12.6 percent of China's total foreign trade.

        In another development, He, speaking at a weekly news conference in Beijing, said that China's latest initiatives to advance the high-quality development of e-commerce in rural areas will support the digital economy's expansion and boost consumption in its vast rural markets.

        To align with the development trend of the digital economy, the government has recently rolled out a guideline to boost the high-quality growth of e-commerce in its rural areas, said the Ministry of Commerce.

        The new policy proposes 14 detailed measures across six areas, including building a multilevel rural e-commerce comprehensive service platform, accelerating construction of a modern logistics and distribution system and fostering diversified new e-commerce entities in rural areas.

        Li Guoxiang, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute of the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that these measures are part of a broader strategy to bridge the urban-rural divide, improve rural residents' access to goods and services, and create new opportunities for rural entrepreneurship and employment.

        By leveraging technology and digital platforms, China aims to integrate rural areas into the broader economy, driving inclusive and sustainable development across the country, he said.

        The government will help facilitate the construction of county-level livestreaming e-commerce bases amid the country's efforts to comprehensively promote rural vitalization, said the head of the department of circulation industry development at the Ministry of Commerce in an online statement.

        Rural online retail sales in China reached 2.5 trillion yuan in 2023, marking a 12.9 percent increase compared to the previous year and a nearly 13-fold increase since 2014, the ministry added.

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