Hours before a scheduled announcement on imported steel and aluminum tariffs, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a series of tweets addressed to President Trump calling for "equal and fair rules for cars" when it comes to the US. UU And China.
Musk spoke against two things that he says have made things "very difficult" for Tesla. First, he explained to the president how the United States applies a 2.5 percent tariff on automobiles imported to the United States from China, while China applies a 25 percent tariff on US imports. He then mentioned how, in China, the government forces foreign car manufacturers that want to manufacture cars in the country to partner with a Chinese car company.
Tesla has exported cars to China for years, and they sell well in the country, accounting for about 9 percent of the electric vehicle market there. However, to avoid the import tariff of 25 percent, the company has explored the installation of a factory. While other major automakers such as GM have accepted China's manufacturing standards, Tesla has resisted associating with local automakers, and has been pushing the government for an exemption. According to reports, the government will not move, so the two sides are in a dead end.
Do you think that EE. UU And China should have equal and fair rules for cars? That is, the same import duties, property restrictions and other factors. – Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2018
On Twitter, Musk complained that this was unfair since there are "five 100 [percent] EV car companies owned by China in the United States" (presumably referring to new companies such as NIO, Faraday Future, SF Motors and Byton) . He also said that Tesla tried to work with the Obama administration in this imbalance, but that "nothing happened."
"In general, I'm against import tariffs, but the current rules make things difficult – it's like competing in an Olympic race with lead shoes," Musk wrote. "I just want a fair result, ideally where the tariffs / rules are equally moderate, nothing else, I hope this does not seem unreasonable."
It is believed that Trump's announcement of tariffs is limited to steel and aluminum, although there are few details about the details of the plan. But he is likely to be able to expand the scope of tariffs, since earlier this week he wrote on Twitter that "commercial wars are good and easy to win."
"It's like competing in an Olympic race with lead shoes," Musk wrote.
What is known about Trump's plan is already deeply unpopular, especially among his Republican colleagues. This week, Cabinet Member Gary Cohn resigned over Trump's push for new fees, and 107 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Trump urging him to reconsider the idea (although he was asked to focus on China if he wanted to move forward). And both Ford and General Motors joined a chorus of US companies that spoke out against the idea.
Musk served on two of Trump's advisory boards in the first months of his presidency before giving up Trump's decision to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement last summer. Given that he had already heard the president before, he is saying that he believes that the way to tilt the balance now with China is to publicly ask the president for these specific changes. And it is telling that he felt the need to explain the tariffs he wants to change as well as the manufacturing rule in China, at the same time referring to the previous administration, a popular method for anyone trying to influence Trump's opinion.
Tesla and SpaceX have benefited from government support in the past, which is why Musk was criticized for remaining on Trump's advisory boards while he did so. Trump has not yet responded to Musk, but whether or not he considers Musk's appeal of new tariffs to Chinese imports of cars or a change in the rules on foreign car makers in the US. UU., The president clearly admires the billionaire CEO; This morning, he praised Musk for the recent success of SpaceX with the first release of Falcon Heavy.