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World

Tariffs on China must do more good than harm: German Economy Minister

IANS | May 29, 2024 03:25 PM

BERLIN: European tariffs imposed on Chinese products must be carefully crafted so that they do not backfire on Germany, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said, as debate grows in Berlin over how to respond to Beijing's trade practices.

"Of course, you have to make sure that measures benefit you more than they harm you, " Habeck told Wednesday's edition of the Rheinische Post newspaper. "A targeted approach is important."

"We have reassessed our relationship with China in this legislative period, " said Habeck, a member of the Greens.

He said China had long been perceived as the world's factory, churning out cheap products for global consumption, then as a huge sales market for Western firms.

But he said the trade relationship has become more complex, and Europe needs to think about policies that will be beneficial "in the medium and long term."

Tensions over Chinese exports on foreign markets are flaring, with Washington and Europe accusing Beijing of supporting sectors like green technologies with massive state subsidies.

They allege China is knowingly creating this "overcapacity" and then dumping the goods in their markets at artificially low prices to the detriment of their home-grown businesses.

This month, the US said it was raising tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles to 100 per cent.

The EU is also currently investigating the extent to which China is distorting the market for electric cars, for instance. A decision as to whether it will impose punitive tariffs is still pending.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, of the business-oriented Free Democrats, has insisted on a moderate approach, saying China's unfair trade tactics must be responded to in order to support domestic sectors without weakening the pillars of free trade.

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