Commentary: Protectionism will only "make America lose again"

By Tai Beiping (Xinhua) 09:58, May 15, 2024

BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The White House announced on Tuesday new protectionist measures against Chinese clean tech, with the centerpiece being a quadrupling of levies on electric vehicles (EV) to 100 percent.

The latest protectionist measures appear to be more of a political show, particularly during an election cycle, rather than a well-considered economic strategy.

In fact, the existing 25 percent tariffs have already effectively excluded Chinese EVs from the U.S. market, rendering additional tariffs largely symbolic and politically motivated.

However, this botched attempt to suppress China's clean energy sector will not help the United States cultivate its own industry. Instead, such actions are likely to backfire, hindering America's efforts to cut carbon emissions and damaging its own green energy industry.

These protectionist policies will also have a direct impact on U.S. consumers looking for affordable, clean, and innovative vehicles, limiting their options and potentially increasing expenses.

Though politicians in the United States are accustomed to using protectionist policies to woo specific segments of voters, they should have known that trade protectionism has been proven detrimental and futile.

Over the past decade, U.S. protectionist measures in the steel industry have failed to halt the decline in job opportunities. Instead, these measures increased costs in downstream industries, reduced the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, and ultimately hurt the broader economy.

A recent opinion piece in Bloomberg criticizes tariffs and corporate timidity for causing an "astonishing loss of nerve" among U.S. carmakers.

These companies, insulated from global competition, are likened to "birds on isolated islands" that grow large and complacent, eventually losing the ability to innovate and compete, said the article.

Rather than raising taxes and imposing trade barriers, U.S. politicians should reject the zero-sum mindset and welcome competition. Encouraging innovation and competition, rather than stifling it, would lead to a more robust and dynamic market.

In stark contrast to Washington's relentless pursuit of protectionism, China's EV industry has thrived due to continuous technological innovation, a well-developed supply chain, and healthy market competition. This environment has spurred significant advancements, positioning China as a global leader in the EV sector.

Even foreign carmakers, including U.S. EV maker Tesla, have benefited from participating in China's competitive but healthy market, achieving rapid growth and establishing a strong presence in China.

The progress in China's EV sector has also brought significant economic and environmental benefits, supporting global efforts toward green, low-carbon, and sustainable development.

Resorting to protectionist measures may serve short-term political interests, but is detrimental to long-term economic and environmental goals. Washington should learn from past experiences in other industries and recognize the benefits of a more open, competitive market.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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