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Quest Means Business

Assassination Attempt On Slovakia's Prime Minister; Markets Rally As US Inflation Cools To 3.4 Percent In April; Biden And Trump Agree To Two Presidential Debates; Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico Shot Multiple Times In Assassination Attempt; Interview With Scania CEO Christian Levin. Aired 4-4:45p ET

Aired May 15, 2024 - 16:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Strong day on Wall Streets. Mizuho Americas and the Open Liberty National Golf Club are bringing the closing

bell. Good day for them. They've had a good swing at 350 odd points and the gavel has been hit.

One-- I think we've got several gavels there. Good strong day on the market. Those are the markets and these are the main events of the day.

The prime minister of Slovakia is fighting for his life. After a brazen assassination attempt in broad daylight. You see the pictures here.

US inflation is slowing and it is renewing hopes of an interest rate cut, and tonight, Scania's CEO is with me. We are talking electrification

competition from China, tariffs, you name it. Well, that's me driving one of their trucks.

We will talk about what's next.

Live from New York on Wednesday, May the 15th. Middle of the month. I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.

Good evening.

I begin with shocking news from Slovakia where officials say the Prime Minister Robert Fico is fighting for his life after an assassination


Watch this video. It shows him being rushed to the car. He had just been shot multiple times, five times, we believe. The prime minister have been

in a government meeting in the central town of Handlova.

The prime minister was airlifted to a major trauma center in the central parts of the country. An official is calling the attack politically

motivated assassination attempt. Slovakia's president says the suspected gunman has been arrested.

Nic Robertson has been following the story from London. What do we know?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We know that we are unlikely to get an update about the condition of the prime minister until

tomorrow. That's what we were told by the interior minister and defense minister who gave that brief press conference about an hour and a half ago.

By then, the prime minister have been in surgery for about 3.5 hours. They said he was still in surgery fighting for his life and that has been the

narrative since he was shot early in the afternoon.

This is a prime minister who is very divisive within his own country. He is anti-immigration, anti-Muslim anti-LGBTQ, but pro-Russia, pro-Putin, an

outlier politically in Europe, divisive as I say, at home. And I think it is very telling that the two ministers that came out to talk to the press

outside the hospital where the defense minister and the interior minister, and they were appealing for calm and appealing for people to avoid hatred

and inflaming the situation on social media and in the media.

So I think that gives you that sense that the shooting of the prime minister and the outcome unknown is something they fear could trigger

potential outbreaks of a violent reaction.

QUEST: Right. The prime minister was relatively recently elected in -- I say, controversial, his views and he is not within the mainstream of

European thinking, or at least traditional, conventional European thinking in Brussels at the moment, none of which is relevant of what I've just said

to the fact that he is fighting for his life in an assassination attempt, and Europe has rallied tonight in its messages of support.

ROBERTSON: Yes, and President Biden as well has said how horrified he is by this attack. This is absolutely -- well, it is almost, almost without

recent precedent and it does set a worrying level of concern for all politicians in Europe. No one -- this wasn't expected in Slovakia, not

expected in other countries.

And as you say, his political views are not the point here, but the point being that the rise of populism, his brand of populism is something that is

on the rise in Europe.

QUEST: Right. Right.

ROBERTSON: And the concerns that go with what comes with that.

QUEST: Right. One quick question just occurred. Do we know anything about the gunman? Has been arrested, but do we know anything?

ROBERTSON: We don't. I mean, other than we are being told, has been interviewed and absolutely, the authorities will know clearly who he is and

precisely what his motivation was, they are just saying politically motivated.

QUEST: Nic, this is obviously moving. It is moving. When we get more details on the prime minister's condition, please come back immediately and

report to us. I'd be grateful.

Thank you.


To our business agenda now and the major US averages closed at record highs. Here is the triple stack. Sorry, let's do that again.

Here is the triple stack. That is what should have happened. Still not 40,000 on the Dow, but it is a high, 39,908. Could it be tomorrow? Who


You see good strong gains, best on the NASDAQ. Inflation slowed for the first time since January. CPI was up 3.4 percent over the year to April.

That was bang in line with expected.

Core inflation, which strips out food and energy cooled as well to its three-year 3.6 percent on an annual basis.

Julia is with me.

Are you cooled by these cooling?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR, "FIRST MOVE": That's a great question actually. I'll tell you what. I am less excited and more cool than

investors are as a result of this teeny fractional reduction that we saw in inflation.

I think the good news is, it wasn't hotter than expected and that is what it has been for the last three months, Richard. So I think, the hope is

that we can look to this and say perhaps that inflation is back on its downward progression rather than stagnating, which I think has been the

fear in the first quarter.

But to the point about the markets. It is fascinating to see, isn't it? We've barely got one cut, one-quarter percentage point cut this year, of

course, the hope is that the Federal Reserve can do more, but apparently, this is all it takes for the bias to clearly be may hay, buy stocks, and be


QUEST: Yes, the Fed is going to wait.


QUEST: The Fed is not going to -- so this is -- you criticized me last time. I remember.

CHATTERLEY: I remember, too.

QUEST: I have still got the -- I've got the wounds when I said the markets were like tantrum children.

CHATTERLEY: I know. I know.

QUEST: And this is the evidence of it.

But I still think the Fed is going to wait.

CHATTERLEY: As they should quite frankly, but remember, the Fed doesn't put so much focus on CPI. That's what we got today.

What the Fed looks at is the Personal Consumer Expenditure Index, the PCE, and that puts far less emphasis on housing, which is the thing that has

been so stubborn in these numbers.

Remember, if you're looking at the CPI and forgive me for getting wonky, around 70 percent of this number is fuel and it is housing. If you take

less emphasis or take the emphasis off housing and look at the PCE, then it is far lower. It has got a two handles rather than three handles.

So I think if we were just looking at this CPI, we wouldn't be having the conversation about cutting interest rates anyway at this stage. But the

granular data suggests that perhaps is room, but I couldn't agree more with you, unfortunately, Richard, I do think the Fed is going to be very careful

here and they are indeed going to watch and learn.

QUEST: Hang on. Is that unfortunately related --

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I love arguing with you.

QUEST: Is that unfortunately related to the Fed or the fact that you have to agree to me? With me?

CHATTERLEY: Richard, it is always all about you. I just loved debating with you, even if we are both making it up as we go along.

QUEST: I am still listening. Good to see you. have a good program, "First Move" coming up in just two hours from now.

Richard Clarida was the vice chair of the Fed. He is now a managing director to PIMCO, he joins me now.

I am sure you were listening eagerly there because we are going to get into the --


QUEST: We are going the weeds of it. CPI, PCE -- what is both at the Fed now as one of the top advisors, what is it you look at when you see these


CLARIDA: Well, I think Richard, first fall, great to be on your show. It has been too long.


CLARIDA: A couple of points. First, I agree with your previous speaker, the Fed target, something called the PCE Index, we won't get that for a couple

of weeks, but I would look at both core measures because food and energy do tend to be volatile. They go up and down.

And secondly, I do think that we have a problem in the measuring owner- occupied housing. Most people have mortgages and with a fixed rate and so they're not really renting their house every month and I do think we don't

measure that very well.

So I look at core measures and measures that strip out the owner equivalent rent calculation.

QUEST: And there we are seeing on the screen this construct, the owner equivalent rental.


QUEST: The index for all items, inside the price of an owner. I mean, this is a real -- why do we bother looking at the Owner's Equivalent Rent versus

just looking at what renters -- who cares what an owner would?

You know, my apartment in New York, who cares what I would rent it out at if no intention of renting it out?

CLARIDA: Richard, I will be boring. I completely agree with you a hundred percent. Moreover, many countries in the world don't even bother. For

example, if you want to do apple to apples comparison of US inflation to Eurozone inflation, then in Europe, they don't even try to measure Owner's

Equivalent Rent.


They say if you rent your apartment, we know what that is. If you own it, then it doesn't go in the index, and I think that is a much more sensible


It also coincidentally works in the Fed's favor because the numbers that strip out the OER are running around two percent, not three-and-a-half.

QUEST: Right, now that was my next point. If you take out OER and you take out core, you get down to nitty-gritty, if you will. What do you believe

inflation is actually doing?

CLARIDA: Richard, my best guess is underlying inflation is somewhere in the twos. It is what I have called the two-point something approach, and I

think were there. There are some noise, Chair Powell has talked about that bumpy road. It is probably bumpier than he and the Fed would like, but I do

think inflation is running in the twos, which is close to, but not exactly at the long run target of two percent.

QUEST: So, if you're still voting, what would you vote? Cutting out -- I mean, well, first of all, what would you vote? And secondly, what do you

think the Fed will do?

CLARIDA: Well, I came into the year thinking that the data would be such that the committee and if I were on the committee, we would be considering

rate cuts in June or July. I think it is very, very, very unlikely they do any cuts in June.

I think there is a scenario where they could cut in July, but it is a pretty tough one. So my guess is, the committee will make a decision in

this summer. Looking ahead, they will have some projections in June, those infamous stocks, and we will get a good sense. But we may not get a rate

cut until the fall, because the numbers have been sufficiently disappointing that I think they're going to need to see really three good

months of data.

QUEST: Now, let's push that forward because --


QUEST: What matters? What does it matter if you do it in July or October? We will deal with the political, but in a second, but in terms of the grand

scheme overall, what difference does it make in grand policymaking if you do it in July or October?

CLARIDA: It makes essentially no difference. What is relevant is the way they communicate the expected path and they can get what they need in terms

of, if they are agreeing where they think rates are going for the next 18 months, then it literally doesn't matter at all if you do it in July or

September, yes.

QUEST: We've looked at this before on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS and the history shows that rate cuts, rate rises take place in the months before a

presidential election, but when there, I mean, do you take any account of the fact we don't want to be seen to help one side or the other?

CLARIDA: Richard, I really don't think so. Certainly during my four years there, which included 2020, a presidential election year, of course, it was

also once in a century pandemic, and it was not on our mind then, there are transcripts available and I think if you read the transcripts which go back

decades, you'll see that it doesn't factor in.

I would note that this year, the November meeting is the day after the election, but I just think they're going to do what they need to do. I am

convinced they are going to do what they need to do, and as you've said, the Fed has been in past election cycles, has both cut and hiked rates.

So they're going to do what they need to do.

QUEST: Where do we you think we -- where do you think we bottom out? Where do you think we stop at once the cycle comes to an end in a sense? What is

the low point?

CLARIDA: Well, that is a great question for the following reasons. It really is going to depend on how sticky and stubborn US inflation is

because I do think we could be in a possible scenario where inflation is in the twos, perhaps around, two-and-a-half percent for some time and in that

world, the Fed may begin to cut, but it doesn't cut all the way down to where it would if inflation was at two.

So if inflation falls to two percent, as they expect by the end of 2025, early '26, then rates could get down into the low threes. If inflation

stays stuck at two-and-a-half, rates could get down to maybe around four percent.

I do think they're going to want to see evidence of inflation moving down to target to get rates all the way down to what they think neutral is.

QUEST: Richard, it is good to see you, sir. Yes, you've been gone for too long from us. We need to have you back and I don't --


QUEST: I don't think either of us ever thought we will be discussing owner equivalence rentals on television, but there we are.

CLARIDA: All right.

QUEST: Good to see you, sir.

CLARIDA: Thank you, Richard.

QUEST: Thank you.

And so the first presidential debate of this season will take place here on CNN. It will be June the 27th.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump started slinging insults no sooner that the announcement had been made.

In a moment.



QUEST: CNN is to host the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It will take place on June the 27th and Jake Tapper and Dana

Bash will moderating.

The first of two debates that we know of so far this year, the second will be in September and that will be by the American network, ABC.

The two men are foregoing their latest schedule, which was put forward by the Commission for Presidential Debates, which traditionally organizes the


The Biden campaign pointed to the rise in early voting telling the commission its dates are out of step with the changes in the structures of

our elections.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny on how this debate change came about.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, make my day, pal. I'll even do it twice --

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With those words today. President Biden formally challenged and Donald Trump

quickly accepted two presidential debates with their first face-to-face encounter now set for late next month on CNN.

The June 27th showdown followed by a second one on September 10th on ABC, would become the earliest presidential debates in memory, a sign that both

rivals are eager to appear side-by-side to gain advantage in their historic rematch.

After weeks of taunting from Trump, who often deploys an extra podium as a prop --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's for Joe Biden. I'm trying to get him to debate.

ZELENY (voice over): The Biden campaign sought to gain the upper hand in the debate over debates in a video today.

BIDEN: If Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020, since then, he hadn't shown up for a debate. Now, he is acting like he wants to debate me

again, so let's pick the dates, Donald.

I hear you're free on Wednesdays.

ZELENY (voice over): That message, a not so veiled reference to the former president's criminal trial now underway in New York. Court is not in

session on Wednesdays.

Even as the accepted two debates, Trump called for more.

TRUMP (via phone): I really think he has to debate. He might as well get it over with. Probably, should do it early so that he can, you know -- he is

not going to get any better.

ZELENY (voice over): Televised debates have long been a storied part of presidential campaigns, with history-making moments for candidates.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.

ZELENY (voice over): And their running mates.

LLOYD BENTSEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.

Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.


ZELENY (voice over): But American history offers no modern-day guide for a sequel because to this.

TRUMP: Because they want to give --

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: If I may ask my question, sir.

TRUMP: Listen, did you use the word smart? So you said you went to Delaware State, but you forgot the name of your college?

BIDEN: He is racist.

You're the worst president America has ever had. Come on.

TRUMP: Hey, Joe, let me --

ZELENY (voice over): As their 2024 contest intensifies, Biden and Trump are both hoping to keep the debate stage free of third-party candidates like

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. who blasted his rivals saying, "They are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win."

Advisers to Biden and Trump have been working behind-the-scenes in an effort to bypass the Commission on Presidential Debates. The group has

organized such forum since 1988, and a three presidential and one vice presidential debate already set for this fall.

In a statement today, the Commission said? "The American public deserves substantive debates. We will continue to be ready to execute this plan.


QUEST: Jeff Zeleny is with me. It is all very different, doesn't it? Listen, AXIOS summed it up today as to why they're doing it early.

AXIOS, I am just reading from one of their articles: "Trump doesn't believe Biden has the mental or physical stamina for the job. Biden thinks people

will recoil at Trump's behavior and rhetoric."

I mean, that is basically there in a nutshell.

ZELENY: It sums it up. And of course, Richard, the question is what do Americans think about all this? I mean, we know that there is less interest

in this presidential race. Many voters, we talk to as we travel across the country throw their hands up and wish they had other choices, but this is

the reality.

But the reason that the Biden campaign decided to jump on this and essentially one-up Donald Trump and call him on his demands to debate IS

that they want American voters to see this contrast, the side-by-side contrast early, because the race has been remarkably stable and that has

not benefited President Biden. So they want to shake it up a bit.

The question is, can President Biden show that he is fit for office? That is his burden and that is his challenge. If he shows up as the president

that we saw on the night of the State of the Union, perhaps, he can. If he looks different, perhaps so there will be more questions.

But the bottom line to all of this, talking to one White House adviser, they said not debating was simply not an option because they did not want

this issue over debates to dog them for the rest of the campaign season.

QUEST: We've got a long way to go and allowing more debates, no doubt.

I am grateful to you, sir. Thank you.

ZELENY: You bet.

QUEST: Guns and ammunition are still flowing freely into Haiti despite a UN weapons embargo. They come in by air and by sea and they are earmarked for

the violent gangs who essentially are now running Haiti's one tall capital, Port-au-Prince.

CNN's David Culver reports on the illegal arms trade and how it is impacting the country's food crisis.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Touching down in Haiti's gang-controlled capital, we move quickly. Armed guards holding the

perimeter as a long line of anxious passengers hurry out the way we came in.

Driving deeper into Port-au-Prince, we pass those desperately trying to survive a crippling humanitarian crisis.

CULVER (on camera): Can you give us a sense how dire the situation is getting with each passing day?

JEAN-MARTIN BAUER, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: Look, we are very worried. Right now, you've got five million people in Haiti who are

acutely food insecure. That's the highest on record, the highest it has ever been, and we are going through the worst crisis in Haiti since the

2010 earthquake. It is that simple.

CULVER (voice over): The WFP warns food supplies across the country are rapidly dwindling as hunger worsens.

CULVER (on camera): For folks who are getting this -- BAUER: Yes.

CULVER: How many of the meals a day are there?

BAUER: This will be there one meal.

CULVER (voice over): And delivering that one daily meal to starving communities increasingly risky.

CULVER (on camera): The logistics alone are incredibly challenging. I mean, just every corner, you don't know what you're going to come across.

CULVER (voice over): Not to mention that constantly shifting gang boundaries.

CULVER (on camera): Do you ever get scared delivering the food?


CULVER (voice over): The UN estimates, gangs control more than 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, severing crucial supply lines for food, fuel, and

medical supplies, and yet, while basic necessities are scarce, guns and ammo, seemingly plentiful and ravaging this country.


CULVER (voice over): But how are the weapons getting here? And from where?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we will do one low pass. We will make a hard right turn. We will be back inbound.

CULVER (on camera): We are flying near the Central Plateau. This is an area that for year has been known for drug smuggling here in Haiti.

CULVER (voice over): More recently, the UN says weapons also come in this way, arriving into Haiti's mountainous in hard-to-reach rural areas.

CULVER (on camera): Likely, it is going to be light -- light airplane. I've seen a lot of Cessnas, but it does look like that grass has been tampered

with right there.


CULVER (voice over): Often landing and the dark of night under the radar or smuggled across the land border or by sea.

Law enforcement believe arms and ammo arrive at the dock of what once was a flour mill taken over and now controlled by gangs.

Haitian security sources, sharing with us these images of seized weapons from other locations. The UN says most guns are shipped illegally from the

US and end up in the hands of various gangs.

(VITEL'HOMME INNOCENT speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: There are always guns that come in. There are always bullets.

CULVER (voice over): One of the most influential gang leaders, Vitel'Homme Innocent, even explaining how easy it is to import guns and ammo compared

with food or medicine, though not confirming where the weapons originate from.

CULVER (on camera): Are your weapons coming in from the US?

(VITEL'HOMME INNOCENT speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: No. I don't go to the US. I cannot accuse the US to say weapons come from there.

CULVER (voice over): To be sure, we had weapons experts review our footage with members of Vitel'Homme's gang, examining images like these.

They tell us that many of these firearms and accessories are in fact made in the US, smuggled directly or stolen from Haitian Police, the end result

here is often the same.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

CULVER (voice over): With the innocent caught in the crossfire, like eight year-old Woodjina Cadeau (ph) shot earlier this year while playing with


When we visited in February, her family was living in this makeshift encampment as she was recovering from surgery. Her little sister, keeping


But days later, gangs torched the whole neighborhood.

CULVER (on camera): Hi, Woodjina, how are you? Good to see you. You're walking.

CULVER (voice over): We meet again as Woodjina heads to a doctor's appointment. We learn her family now sleeps on a church floor.

Woodjina's sister sent to live with other relatives. Her mom says as it was too difficult to flee the gangs while carrying both kids.

(LOVENCIA JULIEN speaking in foreign language)

TRANSLATION: When we had to run, I could not have ran with both of them.

CULVER (voice over): Back alongside the WFP, we arrive at our stop to distribute those meals. It is a school turned displacement camp. We step

out to a crowd of several hundred.

Recent gang violence forcing most here to become refugees in their own city.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CULVER (on camera): And did you see that firsthand? The violence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. I see. I ran from it.

CULVER: You ran from it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ran from it. I ran from like a lot of shots, a lot of crazy --

CULVER: People shooting at you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People shooting and they are burning houses.

CULVER (voice over): Folks here grateful for the one meal they will get today.

CULVER (on camera): What about tomorrow?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know about tomorrow. We are just hoping for tomorrow.

CULVER (voice over): Here, thinking about tomorrow, even that is a luxury.

David Culver, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


QUEST: David Culver reporting and pictures now, we are going to show you President Putin of Russia. There is his plane. He has landed in Beijing

where he will be visiting President Xi Jinping.

China says the two will exchange views on issues of common concern. Clearly, of course, the big issue is going to be Ukraine and I am guessing,

you know, the support or otherwise that China will offer Russia, and it is in furtherance there, but I suspect obviously trade will be part of the

agenda as well.

You'll remember the last time the two met, they signed this deal, this close deal that promised to bring the two men even -- the two countries

even closer, a strategic systemic arrangement. Well, let's see how far that has progressed since.

We will have those pictures as and when they happen.

The Biden administration's new tariff on China's EVs could make repercussions in the EU. The CEO of the European automaker, Scania is with

me after the break.




QUEST: Our top sorry tonight, Slovakia's interior minister is calling an assassination attempt against the country's prime minister as politically


Robert Fico was shot multiple times as he was attending a government meeting in the central town of Handlova. He was airlifted to a major trauma

center and there officials say he's been fighting for his life in surgery that's lasted more than three hours. The suspected gunman has been


Konrad Borusiewicz is a reporter with CNN sister network TVN in Poland. He's in the town where he is at the moment.

Konrad, I'm grateful for you taking time quickly to talk to us. You're outside the hospital. Do we have any more details about the prime

minister's condition?

KONRAD BORUSIEWICZ, REPORTER, TVN24: I'm afraid there's a big lack of details regarding that case, but we had an official conference here with

interior minister who said that Prime Minister Fico's conditions are really serious. The wounds he has are life-threatening and there's an ongoing

effort and the surgeons are right now working to save his life.

But regarding next information, we know that for today that's it, so we will have to wait for another information after what happened in Handlova.

We're in Banska Bystrica where he was airlifted, that's, I don't know, 50 kilometers from Handlova. The doctors decided that this is the best place

to take care and -- with Mr. Fico.

QUEST: Right.

BORUSIEWICZ: They didn't decide to go to Bratislava. They decided to stay here in Banska Bystrica.

QUEST: Now, I realize, I understand that you've just got there, but as you are traveling there, the people you've spoken to, the ordinary people that

you're meeting, they must be shocked by this.

BORUSIEWICZ: They are in shock indeed, and the witnesses that spoke with Slovak's media right after the shooting told exactly that.


There is a big shock. And they pointed to the securities of Mr. Fico that they were quite loose with the security. They let Mr. Fico to take selfies

with the crowd, to comment, talk with them really closely. And then they heard some shooting. Some of the witnesses said that they thought that this

was some kind of fireworks, and then they understand that there's the shooter which was immediately handcuffed and taken by the police.

Regarding that press conference, the officials didn't want to say anything about the shooter, but the unofficial information he says that he's 71

years old man known in Slovakia, a poet, a writer, but any other details, we didn't know anything more about him, about his motivations.

Slovakia is in a state of constant fight between Prime Minister Fico government and the opposition. He's -- it's his first term. He returned

quite surprisingly after resigning in 2018, after scandals regarding death and murder of a journalist covering corruption and ties of the government

with mafia. So we had a big protest in Slovakia. And after that he resigned and came back in the autumn last year.

QUEST: Konrad, I'm grateful. Thank you, sir. Keep us informed as there are more developments. Thank you, sir.

China's foreign minister is calling new U.S. tariffs bullying, saying they're a sign of weakness, not strength. President Biden announced he was

tripling tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles. They'll have a spillover effect in Europe, which is the biggest export market for Chinese electric

vehicles. The E.U. is now going to have to decide how to defend its automakers from low-cost competition.

Christian Levin is the CEO of Scania. He joins me now from Stockholm.

It's good -- you made a good recovery having been with me in a truck, so it's good to see you, sir. And look, before we get to your plans and

because you've got a factory in China that you're building. You're not huge in EV trucks yet, but that's obviously the way it's going. Do you think

this tariffing business will protect -- will protect the European industry?

CHRISTIAN LEVIN, CEO, SCANIA: Well, hi, Richard, great to be with you again. It's been a while. Yes. We are constructing a factory in China as

you said correctly. And one reason to do that is of course to enjoy, let's say, the Chinese competition in their home turf, and gets to know their

technology, their suppliers, their research, et cetera. And we do that because we need to be competitive also there, and I think we should take

the Chinese also in our industry seriously.

But I do not think the solution to having competitive Chinese competitors is to introduce tariffs or trade barriers. I think we need level playing

field and then we need to play. And that's what we've done successfully for 130 years with Scania and I intend to continue that way.

QUEST: Right. But I get the -- you know, if you take a look at the Chinese EV penetration into Europe, sure, BYD or whatever is 10 percent but then if

you look at all the others and you bear in mind the number of automakers like yourself manufacturing there but importing back into Europe, then you

start to see a different picture. Don't you?

LEVIN: So I think we need to distinguish between the automotive or the automobile sector here.

QUEST: Right.

LEVIN: They have a commercial vehicle sector. So -- and I don't have enough information to be precise on the car sector. For us, we still see that we

are extremely competitive wherever there are Chinese players, including in China. And as you say, the electrification has not come as far and

therefore, it's super important for us being Europeans in Europe to build up an ecosystem that can take on whatever competition is coming in the

future and that's actually what I've been doing today.


LEVIN: I've been here. I'm super inspired. I've been with 300 guests in the stock market archipelago from all over our ecosystem. And by the way, from

all over the world, to discuss how can we speed up electrification. Not to end up behind potential competitors be that out of U.S. or be that out of

China, because if not, then we're going to really have a problem and perhaps that what -- that is what the car industry is right now



QUEST: Right. So in the notes, of course, decision-makers need to incentivize policies, deliver infrastructure. But I feel I've heard this

before. And I don't know, not being disrespectful to yourself. I'm talking about in other areas of industrial policy. What is it you want them to do?

LEVIN: Well, I always turn to our customers and ask them, you know, why are you not investing more and faster into -- transforming into whether that's

bio-gas or whether that's electrical vehicles. And when it comes to electric vehicles, there is resistance and there are three reasons for

that. One is that the business case is very difficult for them to handle and that needs to be handled on through price on carbon incentives, tax

breaks, whatever.

The second is infrastructure and the build-out is surely not going at the speed that we would like to see. And the third is availability of

electricity and green electricity where you are. So policymakers, you know, I think we can do a lot without interventions from the policymakers, but

this change is systemic and it's huge.

QUEST: Right.

LEVIN: And therefore we need their support to really kind of break through and yet the scale and with a scale competitive now it's lower costs and all

of the advantages that will improve the business case is going to come. But we're not really there yet. But we are very, very close.

QUEST: Because we'll talk more about this in London, New York, or in Stockholm, and I'm overdue another visit if your nerve can stand my

driving. Thank you, sir. I'm grateful. Thank you.

LEVIN: Thank you.

QUEST: Before I love you and leave you, show you the pictures where President Putin has just arrived for a two-day visit -- there he is coming

off the plane, and being welcomed. Interestingly delegation is not Xi himself is at the airport but there we are and he's being welcomed. A whole

variety of issues being discussed by the two leaders. And we will analyze them and discuss them in the hours ahead as we hear more.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. "MARKETPLACE ASIA"