NEW YORK: Major automakers Tesla, Volvo, Ford and Mercedes Benz have sued the US government over tariffs on Chinese goods, demanding customs duties paid on imports be returned, with interest.
The lawsuits were filed over the past days in the New York-based Court of International Trade and concern tariffs imposed by the US Trade Representative on imports from China, which Tesla in its filing called "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion".
The duties came amid a wider trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, and the automakers are asking for the tariffs to be revoked and any money paid to import parts returned.
Mercedes in its filing accused Washington of "prosecution of an unprecedented, unbounded, and unlimited trade war impacting over US$500 billion in imports from the People's Republic of China", and argued US law "did not confer authority on defendants to litigate a vast trade war for however long, and by whatever means, they choose".
US President Donald Trump's administration engaged in months of trade conflicts with China, and imposed the levies as part of an effort to wean American manufacturers off Chinese technology.
China and the US signed their "phase one" trade deal earlier this year that partially ended the dispute, under which China promised to buy US$200 billion in US goods and Washington backed down on tariffs on US$160 billion in Chinese goods, particularly consumer electronics.
The US also slashed by half 15 per cent tariffs on US$120 billion in goods, but kept in place 25 per cent duties on US$250 billion in imports, which some of the automakers cited in their lawsuits.
Beijing has retaliated for these levies, while Washington is aiming both to reduce its trade deficit and reform Chinese business practices it considers "unfair."
The Commerce Department reported the US trade deficit in July surged nearly 11 per cent to US$63.6 billion, with the deficit with China climbing to US$28.3 billion.