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Claims Are Made That Parts for E-bikes Imported from Mainland China Face Unwarranted Anti-dumping Tariffs

European companies assembling electric bikes (e-bikes) from Chinese-origin bike parts are claiming that national customs authorities are wrongfully imposing anti-dumping tariffs on those parts. Currently, while parts for conventional bicycles face an anti-dumping duty of up to 48.5% if hailing from the Chinese mainland, e-bike parts imported from the Chinese mainland supposedly face an import tariff of only 4.7%. The European Commission, for its part, contends that this is a matter to be sorted out under national law and implementing provisions at the local level.

Companies that assemble e-bikes in Europe are complaining that they face unwarranted tariffs, namely anti-dumping duties that should not be applied, when they import certain parts from mainland China. The EU-imposed 48.5% anti-dumping duties that Member States’ customs authorities apply on parts such as frames, forks and wheels for conventional bikes, have been in force since 1997.

However, the claim currently being made is that some authorities are applying these same duties for parts that are exclusively destined for the assembly of e-bikes. These parts, if imported from third countries such as mainland China that do not benefit from preferential trade agreements with the EU, should normally be subject to an import duty of only 4.7%.

According to a manager of the European light electric vehicles association (Leva-EU), “Those who are trying to have their imports comply with all the rules are confronted with problems, mainly because customs are not aware of a difference between components for conventional bicycles subject to anti-dumping duties and the same components for electric bicycles”.

Under EU requirements, bike parts from mainland China may enter free of anti-dumping duties, subject to their use exclusively for the assembly of e-bikes. However, Leva-EU asserts that some domestic customs authorities do not have the correct procedures in place to be able to ascertain the destined use of the parts.

It was reported on 23 April 2019 that customs authorities in Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and France are demanding the payment of the steep anti-dumping duties, instead of the lower import tariff amount. Those that are felt to be the most adversely affected by this scenario are e-bike assembly companies that are heavily reliant on Chinese-origin imports: they then have to become involved with complex administrative procedures to gain back the wrongly paid tariffs.

The increased vigilance being portrayed by customs officials may be linked to the recent steep increase in tariffs imposed on already-assembled e-bikes from mainland China.

On 19 January this year, the EU started imposing definitive combined anti-dumping and countervailing duties of up to 79.3% on Chinese-origin assembled city and mountain e-bikes. The bikes are described by the two EU Regulations imposing the duties as “cycles, with pedal assistance, with an auxiliary electric motor”. The products currently fall within CN codes 8711 60 10 and ex 8711 60 90 (TARIC code 8711 60 90 10).

The complaint against dumping and subsidisation, which eventually led to the definitive measures, was initially lodged on 8 November 2017 by the European Bicycle Manufacturers Association (EBMA) on behalf of EU producers that were said to be representing more than 25% of the total EU production of electric bicycles.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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