At the end of December, the European Commission published a notice initiating an antidumping investigation against imports of e-bikes originating from China. This comes as the newest trade between the two economies, following ceramic, solar panel and steel cases being opened against China in recent years.
The European Commission is starting the investigation after receiving a complaint that was lodged on 8 November 2017 by the European Bicycle Manufacturers Association (EBMA) on behalf of EU producers representing more than 25 % of the total Union production of electric bicycles. Imports into the EU from China will have seen a drastic rise from next to none in 2010 to over 800,000 e-bikes in 2017, according to the EBMA. The industry group said that the prices of Chinese e-bikes are up to 50 percent lower than EU equivalents.
The case is not limited only to Europe suppliers. Authorities in the US and EU have recently introduced tariffs on Chinese steel, following a surge in exports of the metal, while President Donald Trump has ordered a ‘section 232’ investigation into whether steel imports threaten national security.
According to the EU Notice “The complaint includes sufficient evidence that the producers of the product under investigation from the country concerned have benefitted from a number of subsidies granted by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”
Though the sanction is still provisional, it could already have a strong limiting effect on the import of e-bikes from China into the EU markets.
The statutory time schedule claims that the European Commission has 45 days to decide whether to pursue this case. EBMA’s Secretary General Moreno Fioravanti confirmed this one-and-a-half-month time frame, announcing “Next to evaluating our complaint the European Commission is also consulting the Member States for adopting a decision if to start this anti-dumping investigation.” He also added, “Depending on the date of the European Commission’s official opening of the investigation my personal guess is that the European Commission will publish the final results in January 2019.”
The current dumping procedure on regular bicycles imported from China includes an anti-dumping duty on components made in China. This is in place in order to prevent circumvention. Through an exemption procedure, European bicycle manufacturer can be exempted from these measures.
The question is now whether the e-bikes anti-dumping are to include also e-bike parts like motors and batteries? Fioravanti said on this “It’s possible. This depends on the findings of the European Commission; if dumping is confirmed and how high the risk is of circumvention.”