Major global auto groups, such as Tesla, Ford, Mercedes and Volvo have separately launched lawsuits against the Trump administration to demand an immediate end to imposing additional tariffs on parts and products imported from China.
In separate complaints filed in mid-September, and consulted on Wednesday by the AFP , before the International Commercial Court in New York, these giants of the automotive sector claim that these customs duties, imposed on a list of products under of the commercial standoff between Washington and Beijing, are “illegal”.
They therefore ask for their “cancellation” and wish to recover any sum already collected by the American customs services since the entry into force of new taxes.
“Washington has waged an unprecedented, disproportionate and limitless trade war affecting imports from China worth more than 500 billion dollars,” denounces Mercedes, in its complaint dated September 17.
The German automaker, via its American subsidiary which has production sites in Alabama (south), says that American law does not allow the Trump administration to wage an “unlimited” trade war, using “all means” to achieve its ends.
“Arbitrary” and “capricious”
The offensive by American and European auto groups comes just days after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled illegal a first tranche of tariffs imposed by the United States on some $ 250 billion of Chinese goods.
China is the world's leading automotive market and the main growth driver for many car manufacturers, and in particular for Tesla, which intends to follow the country's ambitious objectives in terms of reducing CO2 emissions.
The high-end electric vehicle maker, led by whimsical billionaire Elon Musk, specifically challenges, in its 17-page complaint filed on September 21, the measures imposed by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
He believes the additional 25% tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on many spare parts imported by Tesla such as terminal displays used in its cars are “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of power.”
The group, which has paid these import duties, claims to be “reimbursed with interest”.
Contacted by the AFP , the services of Mr. Lighthizer did not respond.
The punitive customs taxes imposed by Washington on goods coming from China are in fact paid by importers in the United States, which, according to the objective of the United States government, reduce these Chinese imports and ultimately, the abysmal trade deficit of the United States. United States with China.
These punitive tariffs marked the start of a trade war between the two economic giants and were one of the hallmarks of the Trump presidency, which accused China of dishonest business practices, theft of intellectual property, and of wanting to use technology to extend its hold over certain regions of the world or to strengthen repression in China, particularly against Uyghur Muslims.
Washington and Beijing then struck a largely stalled trade deal. Additional tariffs of 25% thus remain applied on the equivalent of 250 billion dollars of Chinese goods.
With these surcharges, which have been the subject of similar reprisals by China, Washington also hopes to reduce its trade deficit.
In July, the US trade deficit for purchases of goods alone (not counting services) with China was $ 28.3 billion.