Volvo Cars' Billionaire Owner Says Trade War to Hit His Brands

(Bloomberg) -- Volvo Car Group’s billionaire owner warned of the looming trade war’s adverse effects, saying consumers and automakers such as his will be among those hurt by the dispute involving the U.S. and China.

Li Shufu, whose Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. owns the Swedish carmaker, said both Volvo and his Chinese Geely brand would be hit if the trade tensions escalate, as the companies export and import cars between the U.S. and China. Consumers will suffer from rising costs as carmakers need to start building factories in each market to avoid tariffs, Li said at an event in Hong Kong on Thursday.

“It will be bad for Chinese carmakers if the U.S. imposes import tax on China,” Li said. “Simultaneously, China’s increasing tax will hurt Volvo when it imports its U.S.-made cars to China.”

A Chinese billionaire owning a Swedish automaker is a prime example of how globally interconnected carmaking has become, and how the industry’s various players would be hit by trade tensions. Volvo has been producing its S60 mid-size sedan in China and importing it into the U.S. -- though a plant in South Carolina is starting to manufacture the vehicle in a move that gives Volvo a small hedge against the trade dispute.

Read more: Tesla, GM are collateral damage in Trump-Versus-Xi Trade War

"Low taxes can ensure that global integration will benefit consumers,” Li said. "If the trade war continues to escalate, it will eventually hurt consumers as they have to pay more to buy cars."

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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