Biden adopts tariffs to beat China, but Europe risks industrial collapse

The old political adage says: if you can't beat the enemy, ally with him.

President Joe Biden has changed the principle without deviating too much: if you risk losing the elections then put your opponent's program into practice. The choice to raise duties on Chinese electric cars and a series of related materials is the move with which the outgoing President is trying to get ahead of Trump and win the elections again.

On a political level it is a smart move, but this strengthening of protectionism risks putting the economic complex of Western countries into crisis. The Americans protect themselves with duties, subsidies and tax credits, they want to create a once again productive “large island”, bring factories back to America, hit the competitive advantages of the Chinese by weakening their trade offensive.

In terms of resources and production capacity, the United States can aim for re-industrialization but the one who risks emerging in pieces from the trade war between the two powers is Europe. European automotive companies have lost their primacy to follow wicked political choices that have bet everything on the electric car and which now risk having the industrial giants of the continent swallowed up by China. Also because electric vehicles are not selling despite the incentives, the market is contracting, and the little that is sold is Chinese production.

Xi made his trip to Europe with a specific purpose: to produce in Europe, to invade the European market, to pour into it what cannot be sold in the United States. Europeans are in fact more susceptible to blackmail as they are poor in raw materials and technical capabilities in this sector. Eastern Europe has already succumbed to China, Macron's France – despite the proclamations on European sovereignty and autonomy – seeks commercial partnerships with the dragon and new productive investments.

Solar panels, batteries, cheap electric cars are the axes that the Chinese will bring to Europe with excellent chances of success. The EU could also impose tariffs, this could be remedied, but Europe depends on China for many raw materials and components and the risk of Chinese retaliation is too high.

So the old continent remains in the ford. Not to mention that it is virtually impossible to spend more on defense, maintain welfare and complete the ecological transition. One of these three aspects will have to be sacrificed and for political reasons it is easier to reduce investment in green policies. If this is the case, we will find ourselves faced with a spectacular European failure: primacy in the automotive sector lost, behind in the electric sector, without any strategic autonomy over supply chains and raw materials.

Recovering from this industrial suicide will be very difficult and certainly not without disastrous consequences.