During a presentation at EuroBike, e-bike importers discussed the ongoing anti-dumping investigation opened by the European Commission in October 2017 which may result in the imposition of duties on imports from China.
Importers expressed concerns that this investigation may deal a fatal blow to their businesses and the thousands jobs they represent. Indeed, duties as high as 189% on imports from China could kill off the affordable end of the market and severely restrict competition.
What’s happening? Following a complaint brought by the European Bicycle Manufacturer’s Association (EBMA) on 8 September, the European Commission opened an investigation into imports of e-bikes from China on 20 October 2017. Since 4 May 2018, the European Commission imposed the registration of all new e-bike imports with the competent custom authorities. By 20 July 2018, Brussels will decide whether to impose provisional duties on e-bikes. A final decision on definitive duties is expected in January 2019. In the meantime, they may decide to collect duties retroactively from importers.
Speaking at Eurobike, Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU Manager, said: “The situation for importers is intolerable. Some importers have shipments waiting at sea. If they cannot be unloaded and sold, the importers lose their investments. If the Commission decides to collect duties retroactively, importers may lose their entire business. This is already punishment before a verdict was reached. The chaos and uncertainty created by this baseless procedure pose an existential threat to small businesses and the growing e-bike market in Europe.”
Moreover, the case is completely opaque and riddled with procedural absurdities. First of all, complainants refuse to make public the export data on which they based their complaint, which goes against the importers’ due process rights. Second, the European Commission is using Switzerland (!) as a benchmark to analyse prices in its investigation. Having compared the production cost between Switzerland and China, the Commission alleges a dumping margin of 193% to 430%.
Finally, the complainant failed to prove any injury to the European e-bike industry. As was maintained by LEVA-EU during various public hearings in front of the Commission, the profitability numbers of the EU producers in the sample have never been higher. Largely, that is because European e-bikes are leading the upper price segment of the market.
In response to continued violations of their due process rights, today a lawsuit against the European Commission has been initiated. The official case was logged on Tuesday 10 July 2018. Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU Manager, said: “An application for annulment with the General Court of the EU has been filed. We are seeking the annulment of the registration regulation, which was neither based on facts nor imposed with due process and is effectively causing a chilling effect for the importer’s businesses.”
The imposition of 189% or higher dumping duties would seriously affect affordable e-bikes, just as they are rising in popularity. E-bikes are becoming more frequently used by young people, commuters, seniors and urban delivery services alike. At a time when the EU is struggling to reach its climate targets in transport and our cities are congested, Europe should work for sustainable mobility solutions rather than engage in unwarranted protectionist measures.