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Hungary condemns EU tariffs on Chinese EV imports

FILE PHOTO: Cars to be exported sit at a terminal in the port of Yantai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary disagrees with Europe's "brutal" punishment of Chinese electric car manufacturers, its economy ministry said on Wednesday, hours after the European Commission said it would impose tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports.

Hungary under right-leaning Prime Minister Viktor Orban has become an important trade and investment partner for China, in contrast with some other European Union nations seeking to become less dependent on the world's second-largest economy.

"Instead of punitive tariffs, the EU should support the European EV industry," the ministry said in a statement.

The European Commission said earlier on Wednesday it would impose extra duties of up to 38.1% on imported Chinese EVs from July.

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"We disagree with the brutal European punishment of Chinese electric car manufacturers with punitive tariffs," the ministry added. "Protectionism is not the solution."

Hungary has invested heavily by spending more than $1 billion in recent years to support new battery plants on its soil, among others Chinese battery giant CATL's.

Hungary also secured the first European factory investment by a Chinese automaker, announced last year by EV giant BYD, with the country offering cash for creating jobs, tax breaks, and relaxed regulation in targeted zones to attract foreign investment.

(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori; Editing by Mark Potter)