China says EU mandated its EV firms turn over ‘unprecedented’ amounts of data

BEIJING, (Reuters) – The European Commission sought an unprecedented amount of detailed information on Chinese automakers’ supply chains during its investigation into the country’s subsidised electric vehicle imports, China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday.

The Commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation strong European Union, last week slapped extra duties on imported Chinese EVs following the probe, prompting rebuke from Beijing and spying allegations from Chinese state media. China has also launched a dumping investigation into EU pork imports.

“The type, scope and quantity of information collected by the European side was unprecedented and far more than what is required for a countervailing duties investigation,” He Yadong, a commerce ministry spokesperson told a news conference. He was responding to a question from Chinese state radio over whether Brussels had been seeking to spy on China’s EV industry.

The Commission “mandatorily required” Chinese automakers hand over information concerning sourcing raw materials for batteries, manufacturing components, and pricing and developing sales channels, the spokesperson said.

Governments typically impose anti-subsidy duties on imported goods to protect domestic firms when they suspect the item in question can only have been produced for less than the market rate because it benefited from unfair incentives or handouts.

European automakers are being challenged by an influx of lower-cost EVs from Chinese rivals. The European Commission says prices are typically 20% below those of EU-made models.

Chinese automakers that Brussels deemed non-cooperating companies, such as SAIC, will face a tariff of 38.1% once the provisional duties take effect, which is likely to be July.

He Yadong called claims that Chinese car companies did not fully cooperate “groundless.”

State media CCTV also ran an article on Wednesday suggesting that Brussels had sought to spy on Chinese car companies, given the “many unreasonable demands made during this inquiry”.

Reporting by Joe Cash; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Emelia Sithole-Matarise