The tariff war between Europe and China has begun, or at least it's about to. According to the Global Times, a closed-door meeting was held on Tuesday between European and Chinese carmakers and other companies. The Eastern manufacturers are said to be planning to ask Beijing to increase customs duties on European petrol cars.

This would be the first - and decisive - reaction to the tariffs announced by Europe, but the die has not yet been cast.

A series of announcements

For the moment, these are just unofficial announcements as customs duties on imports of Chinese electric cars into Europe will begin on 2 November 2024 with retroactive effect from 4 July. The parties still have more than five months to talk to each other and try to reach an agreement that satisfies them both.

On the one hand, the Old Continent has accused China of unfairly supporting its car industry by practising dumping (the practice of selling on foreign markets at prices lower than those on the domestic market, or even lower than the cost price), by applying methods such as particularly favourable taxation, etc. On the other hand, the Asian giant has rejected these accusations, announcing - as we have seen - "countermeasures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese manufacturers".

Also according to the Global Times, last month a Chinese government-affiliated automotive research centre suggested raising customs duties on European internal combustion engine cars to 25%, a 10% increase on the current situation.

In addition to cars, China has also reportedly set its sights on pork and dairy products from Europe. A "trade war" could therefore open up on several fronts, involving different companies.