Join LEVA-EU Meeting on the devastating anti-dumping measures against e-bikes

239 days ago

7 minutes

The anti-dumping measures against electric bicycles from China do not create the level playing field, that EBMA and the European Commission claim to aspire to. The measures prove to rather create a minefield, where many bomb craters threaten to appear soon.

On 2 May 2023, the European Commission has given notice that, unless a review is initiated, the anti-dumping measures against e-bike imports from China will expire on 19 January 2024. LEVA-EU considers it virtually impossible that EBMA will forego this opportunity for another five years of dumping measures. LEVA-EU fears that this will be the death sentence for many European companies. That is why the professional association is convening a meeting on 16 November in Brussels for all companies under attack.

Union producers had time until 19 October to submit a written request for a review. This request had to contain sufficient evidence that the expiry of the measures would be likely to result in a continuation or recurrence of dumping and injury. Should the Commission decide to review the measures, importers, exporters, representatives of the exporting country and Union producers will then have an opportunity to respond to the review request.

Today, there is no information (yet) as to whether EBMA has requested a review. Neither EBMA nor the Commission have communicated about this so far. The chance EBMA has not requested a review seems to be non-existent.

A possible revision of the dumping measures is the direct reason for LEVA-EU to convene a meeting on Thursday, 16 November in Brussels. A new period of 5 years of measures would continue to cause unprecedented damage to the electric bicycle sector in Europe. That is why LEVA-EU wants to discuss with the affected companies and their lawyers how the current immense problems can be tackled jointly and how a possible request for review can be jointly responded to.

The meeting is open to any company which is currently or has been affected by actions by customs and/or OLAF. Both LEVA-EU members and non-members are welcome. The companies and their lawyers can participate in the meeting free of charge, provided they first register with LEVA-EU manager, Annick Roetynck, annick@leva-eu.com, tel. +32 475 500 588. The companies are invited to submit a short report of their case to LEVA-EU, which will allow to organize the consultation around a few “cases“. That consultation will be aimed at achieving a possible joint approach to all customs/OLAF actions and to a possible review of the dumping measures. The meeting is also intended to offer lawyers the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues about argumentation and defence in various cases.

The companies that LEVA-EU knows have been attacked will be invited directly. All other companies and/or their lawyers are urged to register with LEVA-EU as soon as possible, upon which they will receive a direct invitation.  All companies involved are also requested to pass on the invitation for this meeting to other companies that are under attack.

Import statistics seem to give little reason to further restrict imports of electric bikes from China by extending the anti-dumping measures for another 5 years. Import numbers have decimated and, according to Bike Europe, in general the entry-level and mid-range market is doing particularly poorly. Between January and July 2023, imports from China shrank by more than a quarter to just 88,000 units. So, one could conclude that the measures are having an effect and could be lifted.

However, it is particularly unlikely that EBMA will stop here. There are currently so many actions against European companies accused of circumventing anti-dumping measures that EBMA may have little choice but to argue that systematic circumvention is taking place. Continuation of the measures would appear to be the logical way forward in the fight against that alleged circumvention.

Moreover, over the past 4 years and 9 months, EBMA has very systematically developed a discourse on bringing production back to Europe. In the recently published European Declaration on Cycling, the European Commission lists as an action point: “creating conditions to increase the European production of a broad range of bicycles (including e-bikes, speed pedelecs, and bikes for people with disabilities) and their components, including access to materials, equipment and maintenance of a global level playing field through existing EU trade defence instruments;” Herewith, the Commission itself is, as it were, already announcing the extension of the measures even before the investigation has actually taken place.

In February this year, the European Parliament had called for that Declaration in a resolution, which also states: “(The Parliament) calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the production of ‘Made in Europe’ bicycles and components, thereby stimulating the competitiveness of EU industry, by bridging the investment gap, maintaining a global level playing field and stimulating supply chain reshoring and security, and by encouraging high-quality jobs, creating cycling clusters and enhancing industry-related vocational training;

The European Parliament even jubilantly announced that the current workforce in the “EU cycling ecosystem” could grow from 1 million to 2 million by 2030. Although dumping measures are not legally meant to create jobs, EBMA will obviously not fail to argue that dumping measures are still needed for at least another five years to “bring back” production here and to get people here to work. The fact that things are not quite flourishing for among others the Accell Group, one of EBMA’s major/leading members, may well only strengthen the argument for protecting European industry from the so-called great Chinese danger.

Reality, however, is somewhat different. In EBMA’s story of threats from the Far East, protection of union producers, reshoring production, job creation, … an essential element is missing. While EBMA works so hard to protect and to make some European companies prosper, the survival of innumerable other European companies is under serious threat. They are under attack and being accused of circumvention, fraud, even crimes that can lead to prison sentences. If all the fines and penalties hanging over their heads are to be collected and enforced, these companies will perish. The jobs they have created will disappear. They will no longer pay taxes and social security. Their European suppliers and distributors will suffer as well. Overall supply will shrink, prices will go up and electric bikes will become less attractive to the European citizen.

The past 4 years and 9 months have led to anything but a level playing field. The production of ‘Made in Europe’ bicycles and components is anything but at a level that could meet demand. The very, very worst thing is that a company in Europe cannot legally start the production of electric bicycles and/or components without first having to pay dumping duties for months, if not years, and then being hit with unfair guarantees. As long as the European Commission and Parliament continue to ignore this deplorable disorder, any reference from the Commission or Parliament to a level playing field sounds particularly false. Both Commission and Parliament speak with such ease about a level playing field and about 1 million jobs that will double in 6 years. Who will measure the playing field during that time to check whether it is level? Who will count the number of jobs in the “EU Cycling ecosystem” in that period? And who will be held accountable if the goals are not achieved?

In a 2020-report on Trade Defence Instruments (TDI), the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found that the TDI had “a clearly positive impact for the e-bike sector. Without the measures, production in Europe would probably have ceased. Furthermore, TDI measures on normal bikes and bike parts have been vital in enabling EU bike producers to invest in and develop their e-bike production.” This ECA-conclusion was not based on any research but “on publicly available information and interviews with stakeholders.” With that the ECA made an explicit reference to an EBMA-study, not exactly an objective source. LEVA-EU herewith invites the ECA to do its homework again, this time based on proper research instead of interviews with biased stakeholders. LEVA-EU is confident that the ECA will no longer be able to find that the TDI had a clearly positive impact for the e-bike sector. As for the Commission, LEVA-EU hopes that, in case of a review, they will conduct a very thorough investigation and they will think very carefully about a new five-year term.

Annick Roetynck,
LEVA-EU Manager

Annick Roetynck

Annick is the Manager of LEVA-EU, with decades of experience in two-wheeled and light electric mobility.

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