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US Auto Sector ‘Faces Extinction’ From Chinese Mexico Imports

Auto industry lobbyists say firms like China’s BYD are benefiting from the North American free trade agreement at the expense of domestic carmakers

A man cleans a BYD e-SEED GT concept EV during the media day for the Shanghai auto show in this Reuters image from April 2019.


The US government has been urged to block the import of low-cost Chinese autos, EVs and parts from Mexico, or see its vehicle industry face an extinction-level event.

A US manufacturing advocacy group warned that automobiles and parts manufactured south of the border by companies headquartered in China are benefiting from the North American free trade agreement, and threatening the viability of American car companies.

“The introduction of cheap Chinese autos – which are so inexpensive because they are backed with the power and funding of the Chinese government – to the American market could end up being an extinction-level event for the US auto sector,” the Alliance for American Manufacturing said in a report.


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The group argues the United States should work to prevent automobiles and parts manufactured in Mexico by companies headquartered in China from benefiting from a North American free trade agreement. 

“The commercial backdoor left open to Chinese auto imports should be shut before it causes mass plant closures and job losses in the United States,” the report said.

Vehicles and parts produced in Mexico can qualify for preferential treatment under the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement as well as qualifying for a $7,500 electric vehicle (EV) tax credit, the report noted.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said in response that China’s automobile exports “reflect the high-quality development and strong innovation of China’s manufacturing industry. The leapfrog development of China’s auto industry has provided cost-effective products with high quality to the world.”

The issue has received new interest after news reports that China’s BYD plans to set up an EV factory in Mexico. BYD, known for its cheaper models and a more varied lineup, recently overtook its biggest rival, Tesla, to become the world’s top EV maker by sales.


China Tariffs Call

Tesla announced plans almost a year ago to build a factory in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. In October, Mexico said a Chinese Tesla supplier and a Chinese technology company would invest nearly a billion dollars in the state.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has urged the Biden administration to hike tariffs on Chinese-made vehicles and investigate ways to prevent Chinese companies from exporting to the United States from Mexico.

A group of lawmakers urged US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to boost the 27.5% tariff on Chinese vehicles and said her office “must also be prepared to address the coming wave of [Chinese] vehicles that will be exported from our other trading partners, such as Mexico, as [Chinese] automakers look to strategically establish operations outside of [China].”

Alliance for Automotive Innovation CEO John Bozzella has said that proposed US environmental regulations could let China gain “a stronger foothold in America’s electric vehicle battery supply chain and eventually our automotive market.”

The US Treasury issued guidelines in December on the $7,500 EV tax credit aimed at weaning the US EV supply chain away from China.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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