Brussels wants imports below €150 with tariffs: products from Temu, Shein and AliExpress could become more expensive

In an initiative aimed at stemming the influx of cheap and allegedly inferior products from Chinese online retailers, the European Commission will propose the elimination of the 150-euro import duty exemption threshold. Yes, said the Financial Times this Wednesday.

This policy change, which is expected to be announced later this month, will have a significant impact on the main Chinese platforms, such as Temu, AliExpress and Shein.

The proposed reforms are a response to a rise in e-commerce imports from China, which the European Union says include many “unsafe” products.

Commission data reveals that, in 2023 alone, 2.3 billion articles valued below the current threshold for exemption from customs duties entered the EU, with imports more than doubling compared to are the previous year. This increase led to the delivery of almost 350 thousand items in April 2024 alone, which is equivalent to almost two packages per household.

Removing the €150 threshold would mean that all goods imported from outside the EU would be subject to customs duties, regardless of their value. In addition to abolishing the duty-free limit, the Commission is considering mandatory VAT registration for large platforms. Since 2021, orders destined for the EU must pay VAT, but continue to be duty-free.

Temu has already minimized the impact of potential political changes, highlighting that its growth does not depend on cheap items and expressing its support for fair political adjustments. Likewise, AliExpress has stated that it is cooperating with EU legislators to ensure compliance with the legislation, while Shein has also expressed its support for the proposed customs reforms.

This initiative follows a previous, but blocked, proposal to eliminate the threshold last year. The Commission is now seeking to accelerate its adoption, in a context of growing concerns about product safety. From 2022 to 2023, notifications of dangerous products in the EU increased by more than 50%, reaching more than 3,400 cases. The main offenders include cosmetics, toys, household appliances and clothing.

China under Brussels’ radar

The European Commission has already threatened to increase tariffs on imports of electric vehicles from China from July 4, after provisionally concluding that Beijing adopts unfair practices to benefit Chinese manufacturers.

In a statement, the community executive informed that, provisionally, imports of electric vehicles from BYD will be taxed at 17.4%, Geely at 20% and SAIC at 38.1%, these being the brands included in the investigated sample.

According to Brussels, the Chinese electric vehicle value chain benefits from unfair subsidies, which threatens to cause economic damage to EU manufacturers.

In addition to the three brands mentioned in the statement, other Chinese electric car manufacturers that cooperated with the investigation, but were not included in the sample, will be taxed at 21%. Those who did not cooperate will face a 38.1% tax.

In May, the European Commission also began an investigation into alleged unfair Chinese competition in terms of public contracts in the purchase of medical devices. These include, for example, orthopedic appliances, dental devices, surgical material, gauze and bandages. There is also ongoing research focusing on the production of wind turbines.

For its part, China, on June 17, announced the opening of an investigation into alleged unfair practices by the EU regarding pork intended for human consumption. Beijing wants to know whether European meat is arriving in the country at a price below the normal value for its domestic market. The measure is being seen by the West as a retaliation for the increase in tariffs imposed by the European Commission on Chinese electric vehicles.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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