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Elon Musk asks Trump to counter China's car tariffs

by Justin King

\"We raised this with the prior administration and nothing happened,\" Musk lamented.

As President Donald Trump voices optimism in negotiating with China to reduce the "masside trade deficit" with the US, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has asked the administration to focus automotive import tariffs and factory ownership restrictions.

Do you think the US & China should have equal & fair rules for cars? Meaning, same import duties, ownership constraints & other factors.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2018

An American car sold in China is said to be penalized via a 25-percent import duty, while a Chinese car coming to the US only pays 2.5 percent -- "a tenfold difference," Musk points out.

"Also, no US auto company is allowed to own even 50-percent of their own factory in China, but there are five 100-percent China-owned EV auto companies in the US," he added.

Rather than sparring with officials or paying steep tariffs to sell cars in the world's largest automotive market, most established automakers have complied with China's regulations and formed one or more 50:50 joint ventures with local automakers. Some of the partnerships involve companies that still sell apparent blatant knockoffs of models from European or US automakers. Tesla is a notable exception, however, choosing to pay the tariffs while pressuring the government to allow foreign automakers to establish their own factories in the country.

"We raised this with the prior administration and nothing happened," Musk says. "Just want a fair outcome, ideally where tariffs/rules are equally moderate. Nothing more."

I am against import duties in general, but the current rules make things very difficult. It's like competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2018