VW chief frets over possible China tariff rise

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Volkswagen has admitted it would be hurt by increased tariffs on vehicles imported into China.

The automaker builds many popular models locally at its joint ventures with FAW and SAIC but imports slower selling and premium vehicles from various factories abroad.

Chief executive Herbert Diess told Reuters a Chinese tariff hike on US vehicle imports would be tough as trade war brews and governments in Beijing and Washington trade and threats of punitive tariffs.

Diess, speaking ahead of the Beijing motor show, also told the news agency there were no plans to alter the current joint venture partnerships in China after the government said it would loosen ownership rules.

Diess' remarks followed an earlier Reuters report the European Union had asked to join a dispute brought by China to the World Trade Organisation over US import tariffs on steel and aluminium, just over a week before US president Trump decides whether they should apply to Europe.

The US had set duties of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium on grounds of national security but provided a temporary exemption until 1 May for the EU.

Reuters noted China had already taken the US to the WTO over the measures.

The WTO said the EU had made a formal request to join the consultations as a party with a significant trade interest in the matter. Its interest was substantial because if the exemption ended then the US measures would hit EU exports.

Hong Kong, India, Russia and Thailand also have filed requests to join consultations, the first stage of the WTO process. The EU is the first of the parties granted an exemption to seek to join the dispute, Reuters said.