Raimondo Envisions Potential for Chinese Electric Vehicles on U.S. Roads

In an exclusive interview with CNBC’s Eunice Yoon on Tuesday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo expressed openness to the idea of Chinese electric cars being permitted on U.S. roads in the future, provided there are stringent government controls on their software and sensors.

“It’s possible. I could see a day when we have those vehicles on roads in the United States,” Raimondo stated. “But not unless we have very significant controls and conditions around the software and sensors in those cars.”

Alongside their use of batteries instead of gasoline, modern electric vehicles typically incorporate driver-assist software and in-car entertainment systems that can synchronize with users’ mobile devices.

However, this has prompted concerns regarding data collection. In late February, the White House announced that the Department of Commerce would investigate whether imported “connected vehicles” from China pose national security risks.

“At the end of the day, we must protect the American people from the threat that China poses,” Raimondo emphasized. She expressed apprehension that Beijing could potentially access data such as location or personal messages transmitted through Chinese-manufactured cars.

Raimondo Envisions Potential for Chinese Electric Vehicles on U.S. Roads
Concerns over data security prompt scrutiny of Chinese-made “connected vehicles” and social media apps. (Credits: Energy.gov)

“It doesn’t matter if those cars are made in Mexico or Beijing,” she added.

Responding to these concerns, China’s Foreign Ministry stated, “The Chinese government has never asked and will never ask any company or individual to collect or provide data, information, or intelligence located abroad against local laws.”

Worries about Beijing’s potential access to data have also prompted U.S. lawmakers to contemplate a bill that could effectively prohibit TikTok, a popular social media app owned by China-based ByteDance, from operating within the country.

When questioned about the bill, Raimondo affirmed her support for such legislation.

“I think we might be able to mitigate the risks [from TikTok] if we had enough tools, but we may not,” she remarked. “And I think a ban is something that also needs to be considered.”

Raimondo also highlighted the progress made by the United States in securing supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor sector.

During her two-day visit to the Philippines, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, leading a delegation comprising 22 senior executives from U.S. businesses and non-profit organizations, emphasized the importance of promoting investments outside China.

According to a Department of Commerce release, the delegates have announced investments totaling more than $1 billion in the Philippines, underscoring a significant commitment to diversifying investment away from China.

Alfredo E. Pascual, Secretary of the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry, expressed enthusiasm about U.S. efforts to “friendshore” or secure its supply chain.

While acknowledging the opportunities presented by these investments, Pascual emphasized that the Philippines is not severing ties with other countries, particularly China, which remains its largest trading partner and the primary source of imports.

Raimondo Envisions Potential for Chinese Electric Vehicles on U.S. Roads
The U.S. Commerce Secretary emphasizes the necessity of strict controls on software and sensors. (Credits: India Tv)

Raimondo clarified that her visits to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries are not aimed at countering China but rather at positioning the United States and its companies as the preferred partners for businesses in the region.

Several notable U.S. companies, including Google, Mastercard, and Microsoft, highlighted their investments in the Philippines as part of this initiative.

Additionally, Sol-Go, a U.S.-based solar panel company, was cited for its decision to establish a new factory in a free trade zone in the Philippines to cater to global markets.

Scott McHugo, CEO and chairman of Sol-Go, explained that the company’s existing relationships with local manufacturers in the Philippines influenced its decision to invest in the country over other potential locations such as Vietnam and Turkey.

McHugo also indicated openness to considering investments in China in the future, despite the current focus on diversifying away from the country.

He noted that after completing the current project, which involves a total investment of over $5 million and is expected to be completed within 18 months, he would be receptive to exploring opportunities in China, where the company has been doing business for over a decade.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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