Local manufacturing has become the watchword (or words) when it comes to foreign automakers entering the Chinese market, and for a number of reasons. For one, the market is plenty large enough to make sense out of manufacturing locally instead of importing from overseas. For another, joint ventures with local automakers have been encouraged by the still tightly regulated economy. And now there's another reason: imported vehicles are about to face an extra measure of importation duties.

The taxes are being imposed specifically on cars with engine capacities of over 2.5 liters and made in the United States, which may principally boil down to the Detroit Three, but also affects foreign automakers that manufacture in the U.S. As a result, General Motors (for example) would face anti-dumping and countervailing duties between 8.9 and 12.9 percent, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz would be looking at around two percent.

The move by the Chinese Commerce Ministry is the latest in a series of trade disputes that seek to erect barriers to an otherwise opening economy, and one of the world's largest developing markets.

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