(new: government spokesperson)

BRUSSELS (dpa-AFX) - German Economics Minister Robert Habeck is focusing on negotiations with China in view of the threat of high EU fines on Chinese e-cars - and at the same time warns against a "tariff race". "It is crucial that we talk now," said the Green politician on Wednesday on the fringes of an event organized by the CDU Economic Council in Berlin. "Customs duties as a political tool are always only a last resort and often the worst way forward." Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) warned of the consequences of punitive tariffs.

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said: "From our point of view, it would be very desirable if we could come to an amicable solution. We don't need further trade barriers, we need to facilitate global trade."

Habeck said that the Commission had presented a differentiated report. This was an opportunity for China to engage with this report and to prove in discussions with the Commission that it was eliminating the abuses, that they had been incorrectly assessed and that compensation was being created elsewhere. "So the wrong thing to do now would be a self-running blame game. The decisive factor is the conversation," said Habeck.

Germany is a trade and export-oriented country that needs an open market and a level playing field. Violations must be sanctioned in case of doubt. However, there was a chance that attempts could be made to prevent an impending spiral. "Because it would be really bad if tariffs were used as a protectionist tool, if we entered into a tariff race with China, then the baby would be thrown out with the bathwater."

Wissing wrote on Netzwerk X: "The EU Commission's punitive tariffs are hitting German companies and their top products. Vehicles must become cheaper through more competition, open markets and significantly better location conditions in the EU, not through trade wars and market foreclosure."/hoe/DP/ngu