Importer collective warns EU electric bike importers will close on the back of EC registration decision

The Collective of European Importers of Electric Bikes has issued a statement against the “especially regrettable” timing of a European Commission decision to to impose registration of imports of electrical bicycles with effect from 4th May 2018.

Coming in tandem with a 27,000 word letter complete with evidence to counter the European Commission’s investigation, the collective warns of grave consequences for importers of Chinese-sourced electric bikes, as well as uptake at the entry-level of the market.

“While there is still no conclusive evidence for the accusation that imports are injuring the EU industry, the Regulation threatens importers with the possible retroactive collection of sky-high dumping duties. This threat hangs like a sword of Damocles over the head of a very large number of European SMEs,” writes the Collective today in a stinging press statement questioning the evidence used.

Yesterday, 24 May, the Collective submitted its official response on the Registration Regulation to the European Commission. In the document, the Collective fiercely criticizes the Commission’s arguments for registration. The representative group claims that the Commission has “based the registration decision entirely on the complaints of the EBMA and on Chinese statistics, obtained in a way which is, to say the least, very doubtful.”

“It is a fact that the Commission does have useful information as a result of the verification visits carried out at Accell, Derby Cycle, Eurosport, Gazelle and Prophete. After these investigations, the non-confidential findings were made public. These clearly show that, for all companies, profitability for the product concerned improved significantly in 2015, 2016 and during the investigation period,” says the Collective.

These, it claims, run contrary to evidence submitted by the European Bicycle Manufacturer’s Association, which claims injury against EU firms.

In the statement the Collective goes as far to say that the EC “systematically ignored” its counter evidence, declining to give the opportunity to comment on registration.

In reference to the potential for retro-active duties, no punches are pulled and a warning is issued stating businesses will likely close if such action is taken.

“The Collective is particularly appalled by the dumping rates mentioned in the Regulation because they strike fear into the hearts of EU importers faced with potentially gigantic duties. And the Collective warns the Commission that most importers will be forced to close their business if such high duties would be collected retroactively,” says the statement.

The Collective further notes: As for the indicative dumping duty rates of 189%, the Commission is fully aware that in no previous anti-dumping investigation has dumping duties even close to this rate ever been imposed by the EU on any imports from any non-EU country. Yet this is the figure that importers have to work with when managing the risks of carrying on their business. Factoring in such an enormous cost renders continued business unfeasible if almost double of the import value of the bicycles will have to be paid in early 2019. It is therefore highly regrettable that the Commission made such a statement of an excessively high potential duty rate being retroactively imposed.”

Third on the list of criticisms of the process to date, the source of Chinese export data submitted to the EC is brought into question by the Collective. In its own research, the Collective has researched the availability of the data and found that the necessary data to a 10 digit level (as used by EBMA) cannot be provided because they are not publicly released by the Chinese authorities.

According to this customs source, export data is only available up to an 8 digit level.

This, says the Collective, runs contrary to its right to a defense as the import values are determined on data that is unverifiable by the importer group.

The Collective concludes: “The Collective and its members are concerned by the lack of objectivity demonstrated by the Commission in the Registration Regulation and worst still, the consequences of its apparent endorsement of the extreme claims made in its two complaints.

“The damage caused by the statements made in the Registration Regulation to EU importers is irreparable. They will never be able to recoup the lost sales volumes and revenues in the 2018 season caused by the excessive, disproportionate and unwarranted element of risk that has to be managed as a consequence of the signals sent out to the market in the Registration Regulation.”

Finally, the Collective has requested for another hearing to further explain their concerns regarding both registration and the lack of injury and causation. A the same time, the Collective is contacting the Hearing Officer to also arrange a hearing with this service should the Commission continue to decline the Collective’s requests for the additional information and clarifications set out in the submission.