Elon Musk says he opposes US tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles

Tesla boss Elon Musk says he opposes US tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), just days after President Joe Biden quadrupled levies on EVs imported from China.

“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs”, the multi-billionaire told a technology conference in Paris via video link.

Mr Musk’s comments are at odds with a warning he made in January that Chinese car makers would “demolish” competitors from other countries if there were no trade barriers.

Last week, the White House said new measures, including a 100% tariff on EVs from China, were a response to unfair policies and intended to protect US jobs.

“In fact, I was surprised when they were announced. Things that inhibit freedom of exchange or distort the market are not good,” Mr Musk said on Thursday.

“Tesla competes quite well in the market in China with no tariffs and no deferential support. I’m in favour of no tariffs,” he added.

Mr Biden has maintained a number of tariffs on China that were introduced by his predecessor Donald Trump, while increasing trade pressure on Beijing.

Last week, Mr Biden vowed to not let China “unfairly control the market” for electric vehicles and other key goods, including batteries, computer chips and basic medical supplies.

China said it was opposed to the tariff hikes and would take retaliatory measures.

This week, China launched an anti-dumping probe into imports of a widely used plastic from the US, EU, Taiwan and Japan.

The announcement from the Ministry of Commerce that it will investigate imports of polyoxymethylene copolymer – which is used in electronics and cars – was seen as a signal that China will hit back in its trade disputes with the US and Europe.

Also this week, China signalled it could hit cars with large engines imported from the EU and US with tariffs of as much as 25%.

The China Chamber of Commerce to the EU said it had been told about the potential move by what it called “insiders”.

The European Commission (EC), which oversees the EU’s trade policies, has given itself a 4 July deadline to decide whether to impose measures against imports of Chinese-made EVs.

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