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US-China relationship at its most stable in years as Yellen visits
US-China: Economic ties are “reasonably stable”, other tensions persist | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

US-China relationship at its most stable in years as Yellen visits

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: A Quick Take to kick off your week. Want to talk about the most important geopolitical relationship in the world, the US and China. Janet Yellen, the secretary of treasury, back over to China yet again, both to help ensure that the relationship is reasonably stable, also to deliver tough messages in places where she feels like that is required, the Biden administration feels it's required. And it's been a useful trip.

On the one hand, the United States, like the Europeans, delivering tough messages on Chinese dumping, on overproduction and low-cost goods going into the American and European markets, because of massive state subsidy, into key sectors. Particular concern on transition energy. On the one hand, great to see more effort to reduce carbon emissions, both in China and globally, and as the prices come down, that's a good thing. On the other hand, really hurting less competitive corporates that don't have that level of state subsidy in the United States and Europe. Tesla was really fast out of the box, hasn't got much support from the White House, but that's been the American champion to the extent that there is one. On the other hand, when you talk about other corporations, American and European, nowhere close to the Chinese. The hundreds of Chinese EV companies that are less expensive, they are higher quality, they are manufacturing at scale, and people can buy them all over the world. So, that is creating a lot of friction.

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President Joe Biden riding around in a Hummer EV during a tour of the General Motors 'Factory ZERO' electric vehicle assembly plant, in Detroit, Michigan, back in 2021.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Biden boosts EVs with new tailpipe emissions rules

As goes the American car market, so goes the world. Or at least large swathes of North America. With the Biden administration’s latest auto regulations, that may mean electric vehicles pull ahead as those with internal combustion engines.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden introduced tailpipe pollution limits that require automakers to reduce carbon emissions from their vehicles by 56% by 2032 based on 2026 levels.

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Employees work on an assembly line at startup Rivian Automotive's electric vehicle factory in Normal, Illinois, U.S. April 11, 2022.

REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

North American EV makers face headwinds

Asian electric vehicles surged at the end of 2023 in both the United States and around the world, raising questions about the feasibility of North American plans to profit from the conversion to electric transport.

In the US, Hyundai and Kia came second to Tesla in sales, but ahead of Chevrolet and Ford. Hyundai and Kia, which are both manufactured by Hyundai Motor Group, have profited by focusing efforts on low-cost sedans, unlike American manufacturers, who have emphasized SUVs and pick-ups.

Globally, Chinese automaker BYD outsold Tesla in the final quarter of 2023 by cutting prices. BYD, which makes its own batteries, is seen as a growing force in the international market, second only to Tesla.

EV sales are up in the crucial US market, although the transition is slowing. The softening market and growing strength of Asian competitors are raising questions among auto executives about the shift to EVs. Both Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau’s governments are spending huge amounts on tax incentives and manufacturing credits to create jobs at home while pushing to cut emissions through EV sales.

In Canada, the auto parts industry is expressing skepticism about the feasibility of the Trudeau government’s target of 60% of sales by 2030, which is more aggressive than Biden’s 50% target. Analysts say the only way the targets can be met is if a large number of Chinese vehicles are imported.

Speed bumps on the road to EV dominance

The political push to speed the transition from conventional to electric vehicles has hit a speed bump after both Ford and GM signaled concern about the fundamentals of their EV business. This casts a pall over the ambitious subsidies of President Joe Biden’s and PM Justin Trudeau’s governments, which are designed to hurriedly nudge industry in both countries toward a bright low-emissions future where North Americans zip around in electric vehicles.
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U.S. President Joe Biden steps out of an electric Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup truck being shown to him by General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show.


Biden’s EV agenda runs up against his China agenda too

Joe Biden has big plans to supercharge the US electric vehicle industry. He wants half of all new cars sold in the US to be electric by 2030 as part of his bigger goal of putting the country on track to be carbon neutral by 2050.

But as admirable as it may be from a climate policy perspective, Biden’s EV agenda is also getting him in trouble with other policy priorities.

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Tesla charging station.


Canadians cooler on EVs than Americans

Both President Joe Biden and PM Justin Trudeau want their countries to be leaders in the electric vehicle industry … but are drivers in each country ready to make the leap?

According to a new study by J.D. Power, Americans are more likely than Canadians to consider buying an electric vehicle. It showed a 13-point drop in the number of Canadians keen to buy an EV, dropping from 47% last year to 34%.

Just over one in five Canadians are “very likely” to consider an EV the next time they buy a vehicle. In the United States, meanwhile, 61% of those shopping for a vehicle are likely to consider buying an EV – a 27-point jump on their northern counterparts.

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Luisa Vieira

Canadian companies green with envy over US cleantech push

Canada has been wringing its hands over brain drain for decades. The appeal of a bigger market and higher wages in the United States has long wooed educated Canadians to move south. It’s also drawn the attention of policymakers concerned by those ditching their homeland and taking their businesses with them.

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Hannah Sylvestre

Trudeau jammed in EV trade war

International automaker Stellantis recently ordered workers to down tools at a CA$5-billion EV battery plant it is building in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit – an unwelcome surprise for PM Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

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