(Bloomberg) -- China and the European Union agreed to start talks on the bloc’s plans to impose tariffs on electric vehicles imported from the Asian nation. 

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis spoke in a video conference Saturday, according to a statement by the commerce ministry in Beijing. They agreed to begin talks, the statement said without providing details.

Earlier this month, the EU announced plans to impose levies as high as 48% on EVs shipped from China as of July, fueling trade tensions with the Asian nation. The bloc has opened a slew of investigations into China, citing unfair trade practices such as massive state subsidies, prompting Beijing to retaliate with an escalating campaign of threats targeting European goods. 

The consultations come as Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck made a visit to China. Habeck met Wang earlier Saturday and reiterated Europe’s willingness to hold discussions about the tariffs.

“One has to be very careful now, this is a first step and many more will be necessary,” Habeck said to reporters in Shanghai after the EU-China talks were announced. “But at least this is a first step that was not possible before. That’s why tonight is a good evening if we want to try to maintain a level playing field and avoid a tariff war.”

The call between Dombrovskis and Wang was “candid and constructive” and both sides agreed to “engage on the basis of facts and in full respect of WTO rules,” a European Commission spokesman said. Brussels and Beijing will continue the talks at all levels in the coming weeks and any negotiated outcome to its investigation must be “effective in addressing the injurious subsidization,” he added.

--With assistance from Jorge Valero.

(Updates with comments from Habeck and EU Commission starting in fifth paragraph)

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