German Transport Minister Volker Wissing has firmly opposed the idea of imposing punitive tariffs as a response to the European Commission's ongoing investigation into alleged Chinese electric vehicle (EV) subsidies. Speaking to the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, Wissing emphasized his reluctance to endorse protectionist measures and raised concerns about the potential repercussions on the German economy.
Wissing, representing the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), warned against the adoption of isolationist policies, suggesting that such actions could trigger a detrimental chain reaction. He expressed his belief that obstructing trade, be it in the automotive sector today or other industries tomorrow, would ultimately impoverish the global economy.
Instead, Wissing stressed the importance of ensuring competitive production of electric vehicles, both for the benefit of Germany and its standing in global markets. This approach, he argued, would be more effective in addressing the challenges posed by China's state-supported EV imports.
The European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, recently initiated an investigation into whether punitive tariffs should be imposed to safeguard EU automakers against what it perceives as excessive state subsidies benefiting Chinese EV manufacturers. China has vehemently criticized the probe as protectionist and cautioned against its potential negative impact on economic relations, a sentiment shared by Germany's influential automotive industry.
In contrast to Wissing's stance, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has welcomed the European Commission's actions, underscoring the need for corrective measures should significant violations of competition rules be identified through the EU's investigation.