EU Backs Duties on Imports of Chinese E-Bikes to Curb Unfair Trade Practices

December 18, 2018 Updated: December 18, 2018

BRUSSELS—EU governments voted on Dec. 18 to impose duties on Chinese electric bicycles to curb cheap imports that European producers say benefit from unfair subsidies and are flooding the market, EU sources familiar with the case said.

The European Commission, which is investigating on behalf of the 28 EU members, has proposed that definitive or final tariffs of between 18.8 and 79.3 percent should apply for all e-bikes coming from China.

The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties are the latest in a series of EU measures against Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel, which have sparked strong words from Beijing.

The electric bicycle imports are already subject to the duties set on a provisional basis in July. Definitive duties typically apply for five years.

Taiwan’s Giant, one of the world’s largest bicycle makers, which has factories in China as well as in the Netherlands, would be subject to a rate of 24.8 percent.

The Commission found Chinese exports of e-bikes to the European Union more than tripled from 2014 until September 2017. Their market share rose to 35 percent, while their average prices fell by 11 percent.

It has also said Chinese producers benefit from controlled aluminum prices as well as advantageous financing and land rights conditions and tax breaks.

Trade measures, it said, would shield 90,000 EU workers and over 800 small and medium companies against unfair competition.

EU producers include Dutch groups Accell and Gazelle, Romania’s Eurosport DHS and Germany’s Derby Cycle Holding.

China’s Unfair Trade Practices

The European Union shares U.S. concerns about Beijing’s forced technology transfers and state subsidies.

The European Union announced on June 1 that it has launched a complaint against China to the World Trade Organization (WTO), citing Chinese policies that discriminate against foreign firms and force them to transfer proprietary technology.

In a press release, the European Commission explained that European firms operating in China—which are often forced to establish joint ventures with domestic companies in order to gain access to the Chinese market—have been made to transfer technology to their Chinese counterparts.

“Technological innovation and know-how is the bedrock of our knowledge-based economy. It’s what keeps our companies competitive in the global market and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across Europe. We cannot let any country force our companies to surrender this hard-earned knowledge at its border,” European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said in the press release. She noted that such technology transfers are against WTO rules, particularly the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights signed by member nations in 1995.

Earlier in March, the United States filed a similar complaint with the WTO, claiming that China has been “denying foreign patent holders, including U.S. companies, basic patent rights to stop a Chinese entity from using the technology after a licensing contract ends,” according to a statement by the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The U.S. complaint was filed following the publication of the USTR findings, as part of a set of trade measures President Donald Trump announced in order to penalize China for its theft of intellectual property, including the much-talked-about $50 billion worth of trade tariffs on Chinese imported tech goods.

By Philip Blenkinsop. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.