By Maria Martinez

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said during his visit to China on Saturday that the door of the European Union is open for discussions regarding EU tariffs on Chinese exports.

“What I suggested to my Chinese partners today is that the doors are open for discussions and I hope that this message was heard,” he said in his first statement in Shanghai, after meetings with Chinese officials in the morning in Beijing.

Habeck’s visit is the first by a senior European official since Brussels proposed hefty duties on imports of Chinese-made electric vehicles (EVs) to combat what the EU considers excessive subsidies.

Habeck said in Shanghai that until November, there is time for a dialogue between the EU and China on tariff issues, and that he believes in open markets but that markets require a level playing field.

The EU provisional duties are set to apply by July 4, with the investigation set to continue until Nov. 2, when definitive duties, typically for five years, could be imposed.

“This opens a phase where negotiations are possible, discussions are important and dialogue is needed,” Habeck said.

(Reporting by Maria Martinez in Shanghai; editing by Jason Neely and Sharon Singleton)

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