Mercantilist tariffs (as opposed to tariffs as foreign policy tools) are purely protectionist, designed to punish competitors for competing. They’re not only aimed at foreign competition, either, as Europe’s auto industry is demonstrating [emphasis added].
Auto makers in Europe eager to boost sales of their electric vehicles have a new strategy: demanding higher taxes on conventional vehicles that burn gas and diesel fuel.
The top executives at several car and truck makers are calling on European governments to introduce the new taxes on carbon-dioxide emissions from gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks as a way to help their EVs better compete.
And there’s this bit of disingenuosity [emphasis added]:
Taxing emissions from polluting vehicles, he [Volkswagen AG Chairman of the Board of Management and VW Group CEO Herbert Diess] and other executives say, would help ensure electric vehicles remain attractive for buyers after the expiration of subsidies that are now sustaining sales.
But don’t you dare think about taxing the EVs’ pollution from mining the materials needed for the batteries, the pollution from manufacturing those batteries, or the pollution from disposing of those batteries when they’re spent.
Once again, if a company’s product is unable to compete in a free market without subsidies for their own products or artificial burdens—those internal protectionist tariffs—laid on competing products, the company’s product is not viable and not ready for market.