BRUSSELS, Sept. 16 -- European Union countries backed plans on Tuesday to raise duties on Chinese-made aluminium wheels, EU diplomats said, amid growing fears that China is making inroads into its high-tech industries.
"The EU wants to use this case to address what it is calling an aggressive industrial policy by China," said an industry source familiar with the case.
The duties -- which are set to be signed off by government ministers within a month -- aim to counterbalance what the EU's executive says is illegal discounting by Chinese exporters.
Due to launch by mid-November, they will replace temporary anti-dumping tariffs that were imposed in May.
At a closed-door meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, a majority of the EU's 27 states agreed to raise duties to 22.3 percent from 20.6 percent, diplomats said. The new tariffs are set to be in place for five years.
Car-makers such as BMW and Ford, however, are worried the tariffs could increase their production costs.
Manufacturers estimate the duties will add more than 300 million euros ($386 million) to the cost of wheels bought in the EU every year, squeezing profits already depressed by the global economic downturn.
"Ford may try and take this to the highest political level but there is nothing now to persuade the Commission to change its view about the duties," an EU diplomat said.
Last year, EU car makers bought about 35 million aluminium wheels at a total cost of about 1.4 billion euros. About one million wheels came from China. ($1=.7770 Euro)