Congress is getting an earful these days from America’s trade partners about the tax credits it is proposing on electric vehicles (EVs).
The complaint is that these tax credits, as written, are biased against imports, and run afoul of global trade rules. Canada and Mexico, for example, are talking about challenging the tax credits at the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Others, including Korea and Japan, say they might file disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Last week, the European Union (EU) wrote to Senate leadership that, unless rewritten, the EV tax credits “will result in unjustified discrimination” against European cars and car parts. This letter is a game-changer, because the EU is credibly poised to retaliate.
First things first. As I’ve recently written, the tax credits come in at $12,500 per vehicle, but with protectionist fine print. The House’s Build Back Better proposes that $4,500 of this be contingent on the car being made by unionized labor, and that another $500 go to EVs with at least 50 percent U.S. content by value and have a U.S. battery. The full $12,500 tax credit would require both by 2027. The Senate’s version ties $2,500 to final assembly being done by unionized labor, and another $2,500 if the manufacturing facility is located in the US. By 2026, however, the full tax credit would require that both boxes be checked.