The Collective of European Importers of Electric Bicycles has sent a second, exhaustive open position paper to the European Commission further objecting to the possible registration of imports.
That registration has been requested by EBMA and, if granted by the European Commission, would allow for retroactive collection of anti-dumping duties. The Collective has reiterated and further detailed its arguments against the EBMA position.
The open letter, which was shared with members of the cycling press this week by LEVA-EU head Annick Roetynck, reads:
EBMA continues to build on unverifiable, Chinese export data to establish the so-called stockpiling, that requires registration. As a result, EBMA claims huge increase of Chinese exports in December 2017, January and February 2018. EBMA has consistently asked the Commission to treat these Chinese statistics as confidential information, since they allegedly have paid a fee to obtain the numbers. The Collective asks the Commission to disclose the identity of the data provider, which will also allow the Collective to obtain and verify the data for a fee.
Nevertheless, the Chinese export statistics are not supported by Eurostat statistics. The Collective believes that this is due to the belief that the EBMA does not use the proper method for assessing the need for registration. Eurostat reports average monthly import volumes of around 68,670 units for the investigation period and an average of 59,200 in the three month following the initiation of the anti-dumping investigation. Even imports in January 2018, at 64,020 units, were lower than the average for the investigation period. So, the proper method for assessing the need for registration shows no surge in additional import volumes and/or stockpiling and therefore no need whatsoever for registration.
Stockpiling practically impossible
The Collective further argues that it is practically impossible for its members to stockpile in view of the way they work. They do not buy electric bikes off the shelf, but have them tailor made, which involves very long lead-times, especially for the parts to come in. These parts are in very high demand, since they are not only used for e-bike production in China but just as well for the European production of e-bikes. Even if an importer would have responded immediately to the Notice of Initiation (Oct. 2017), bikes ordered then will only be delivered well into 2018.
Nevertheless, EBMA claims that there exists an almost two year history of dumping which somehow indicates that EU importers should have been aware that dumping was taking place. EBMA relies on “rumours” about a potential anti-dumping complaint in the trade press back in Autumn 2016 to support the existence of such knowledge. Conveniently, however, EBMA omits that it expressly scotched such rumours at the end of November 2016 when it responded to them saying: “There is not any current EBMA request, nor – in EBMA’s knowledge – any new investigation at the European Union Commission at present. The rapidly growing imports from China to the EU are being monitored through Eurostat.” (Bike Europe, 29/11/2016)
No (threat of) injury
Conspicuously, the EBMA does not address any of the analysis provided by the Collective in its previous submission showing the absence of injury to the EU industry. As an example, in the 2017 financial report, the Accell Group notes first that it is one of the largest, if not the largest EU producers of e-bikes, and therefore potentially the price leader, and then confirms robust growth in its e-bike sales in the EU. Overall, for the Accell Group, turnover for e-bikes increased by 90% over a period almost commensurate with the injury investigation period. The growth in turnover between 2016 and 2017 was 30%. These results clearly do not indicate any injury measured in terms of revenues for e-bikes for this Group. The Group states that it also recorded a further increase in its order intake for 2018. Since future order intake is a crucial element of assessing actual injury or a threat thereof, the fact that publicly available information indicates that one of the largest EU e-bike producers has a healthy order intake points strongly to no such threat, contrary to the EBMA’s claims.
Finally, the Collective questions whether a significant number of EBMA’s members can actually be considered as part of the EU industry, because they themselves are significant importers of electric bicycles from China. It is relatively clear from the Commission’s non-confidential files that Prophete is a related importer for one of the sampled EU producers. Another EBMA-member, BH is part of the importers’ sample. As for Oxylane, it is part of Decathlon which, as reported by Bike Europe (16/01/2018), sells 60,000 to 70,000 per year which are currently being produced in China.
Therefore, the Collective requests the Commission to carefully consider the impact of these activities. It also raises the question as to whether the sampled EU producers are actually part of a real EU manufacturing industry for e-bikes and to what extent EU enterprises have self-inflicted injury by engaging in these practices.
The Collective is convinced that registration of imports will inflict further and disproportionate damage to EU importers. It would have an unjustified chilling effect with potential cancellation of deliveries, because EU importers cannot reasonably assess the risk involved in retroactive collection of duties at a completely unknown duty rate.
The European Commission has until 20th April to decide on registration, which creates the possibility of retroactive collection. However, should registration be imposed, duties will only be collected on condition that the Commission decides for definitive dumping duties. That decision is still a long way off.