Trade War Watch: China to Reduce Import Tariffs for Cars and Components

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
trade war watch china to reduce import tariffs for cars and components

China has announced plans to slash import fees on automobiles to 15 percent starting this July. While the tariff currently rides high at 25 percent, the country’s Ministry of Finance said reducing it was part of an intentional effort to open up China’s markets and spur development within the local automotive sector.

It may also have been part of a peace offering. President Donald Trump has been pretty clear on China’s trade policies with the United States, frequently referring to them as unfair. The U.S. imposes a svelte 2.5 percent fee on imported vehicles — unless we’re talking about trucks. “Does that sound like free or fair trade?” Trump tweeted last month. “No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE — going on for years!”

That posting came after the president proposed an aggressive tariff hike on metals in March, but before the two countries mutually agreed to chill out on trade threats just a few days ago.

In the interim, fears grew that Trump’s borderline antagonistic negotiation tactics would toss the country into a full-blown trade war with China. However, Chinese President Xi Jinping came forward to publicly state his intention to cut auto import taxes and improve intellectual property protections in a bid to bolster foreign exports and ease tensions. Later in April, China’s lead economic planner announced the country would ease limits on foreign ownership of automotive ventures by 2022.

The country appears to be making good on some of those promises, which is great news for high-end manufacturers hoping to sell within the country but not build there. Mainstream brands with less profit per vehicle might still have a rough go of it, however, optioning to enter or stay in China via those federally mandated joint ventures.

We would express our sympathies to brands like Buick for setting up shop there already, but it’s already cleaning up inside the nation’s borders. However, brands like Mercedes and Porsche will be totally stoked with the finance ministry’s announcement.

Parts suppliers are also in for good news, as they’ll see a reduction in import taxes. Auto parts shipped into the country endure tariffs ranging anywhere from 8 to 25 percent, but typically average around 11. The People’s Republic claim they’ll be subject to a flat 6 percent tax as of July 1st.

Bloomberg reports that tariffs on imported trucks are likely to stay at the current 20 percent — which the U.S. has no right to complain about, thanks to its chicken tax.

[Image: General Motors]

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2 of 46 comments
  • Asdf Asdf on May 23, 2018

    I guess that means that Trump won't need to raise import tariffs for Chinese cars and components to more than 15 %.

  • Gtem Gtem on May 23, 2018

    I personally would love to see a nice high tariff specifically on junk Made-in China car parts (maybe consider banning that and their sh*tty tires altogether). A pox on my (formerly) beloved Gates and even Aisin(!) for starting to put crappy Chinese bearings and tensioners into their timing belt kits.

  • Kat Laneaux What's the benefits of this as opposed to the Ford or Nissan. Will the mileage be better than the 19 city, 24 hwy? Will it cost less than the average of $60,000? Will it be a hybrid?
  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...
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  • ToolGuy See kids, you can keep your old car in good condition.