China commerce minister kickstarts Europe trip with Chinese EV firms meeting

By Reuters   April 7, 2024 | 06:47 pm PT
China commerce minister kickstarts Europe trip with Chinese EV firms meeting
A BYD electric car seen in Hungary. Photo courtesy of BYD
China's commerce minister kicked off a trip to Europe by meeting top Chinese automakers BYD, opens new tab and CATL, opens new tab, as he prepares to discuss an ongoing probe by the bloc into whether China's EV industry has benefited from unfair subsidies.

Wang Wentao held a roundtable meeting in Paris on Sunday with representatives from more than 10 enterprises that also include Geely, opens new tab, according to a statement published by the commerce ministry on Monday.

During the meeting, he reiterated Beijing's stance that Chinese EV firms do not rely on subsidies to gain a competitive advantage and said accusations by the U.S. and Europe of "overcapacity" were groundless.

"China's electric vehicle companies rely on continuous technological innovation, perfect production and supply chain system and full market competition for rapid development, not relying on subsidies to gain competitive advantage," Wang said.

He also told them the Chinese government would actively support firms to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.

Four sources briefed on Wang's trip told Reuters in late March that the discussions would focus on the European Commission investigation that began late last year and aims to determine whether to impose tariffs on exports to protect European car makers. China has a significant lead over European companies in developing low-cost EV models in particular.

The investigation is due to conclude by November, although the EU executive could impose provisional duties earlier.

Wang was also due on Sunday to meet Renault chief executive Luca de Meo, who is also acting chairman of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), Reuters reported on Sunday citing a person briefed on the meeting.

He was also expected to attend a dinner later on Sunday with executives from the cosmetics industry, two other sources familiar with the plans said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said he will hold talks with Wang on Monday. The Chinese trade ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is currently in China where she has said global concerns are growing over China's excess industrial capacity, noting it is not healthy for China and is hurting producers in other countries.

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