Tesla Sues US Government Over Chinese Tariffs

Electric car giant Tesla has filed a lawsuit against Uncle Sam, in protest at the tariffs imposed by the US government of Donald Trump on Chinese imports.

Not only is Tesla seeking to end what it described as President Trump’s “unlawful” tariffs on Chinese-made components, but the car maker is also seeking a refund on all duties paid – plus interest, the Register reported.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of International Trade in New York, and names two men: Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative, and Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection.

The Tesla Model X. Image credit: Tesla

Tesla lawsuit

As a result of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, the Trump administration has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods, and well as banning certain Chinese firms and equipment on national security grounds.

“Plaintiff brings this action to contest Defendants’ unlawful imposition and collection of certain duties on its imported merchandise from the People’s Republic of China pursuant to Section 301(b) of the Trade Act of 1974,” Tesla said in its lawsuit.

“Plaintiff has paid duties on merchandise included in List 3 and List 4A,” alleged Tesla. “Defendants’ imposition and collection of these duties is unlawful.”

According to the Register, although the lawsuit does not name any specific Chinese-made items, it does specific two sets of equipment that are subject to import tariffs from China.

The first is called List 3, which includes items from LEDs and vehicle instrument panels to food and ores, and which carries a 25 percent tariff.

The second list List 4A, which ranges from video displays to clothes and nuclear fuel, and has a 7.5 percent rate.

Electronic tariffs

There is speculation that Tesla is unhappy that the US tariffs apply to custom-built hardware it imports from China, such as the Intel-powered infotainment-and-communications unit, and the self-driving Autopilot 3.0 ECU that analyses data coming from its cameras and sensors.

According to the Register, Tesla had last year requested these two units to be excluded from any tariffs on Chinese kit, and was rejected by the Office of the US Trade Representative.

It is also reported that fellow car makers Volvo, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz have also filed lawsuits against the US government over the tariffs on made-in-China components.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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