WOLFSBURG (dpa-AFX) - Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen is concerned about EU plans for tariffs on e-cars from China. "Countervailing duties are generally not suitable for strengthening the competitiveness of the European automotive industry in the long term - we reject them," a Group spokesman told the German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Wednesday. "The negative effects of this decision outweigh any potential benefits for the European and, in particular, the German automotive industry."

On Wednesday, the EU Commission threatened to impose high provisional penalties on e-cars from China. Whether manufacturers will actually have to pay the duties of up to 38.1 percent depends on whether another solution can be found with China. The conviction in the published announcement lacks any factual or legal basis, according to the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing. The EU is displaying protectionist behavior that is causing and increasing tensions in trade.

The VW spokesperson said that the EU Commission was setting the wrong priorities by threatening to impose protective tariffs. "Free and fair trade and open markets are the basis for prosperity, employment and sustainable growth worldwide." There is no fear of competition: "The Volkswagen Group confidently accepts the growing international competition, including from China, and sees this as an opportunity."

China is the most important sales market for the core VW brand. The brand sold almost every second car there last year. The market is served almost exclusively by local production; imports from Europe account for less than one percent of the brand's vehicles sold in China. The proportion is significantly higher for the subsidiary Audi, while Porsche even serves the Chinese market entirely from Europe./fjo/DP/ngu