24 Oct 2018
Registration of E-bikes from Mainland China Continues, Despite EU Producers’ Withdrawal Request
As previously reported in "EU Producers of E-bikes withdraw Registration Requests in Dumping and Subsidy Case Against Mainland China", and as a surprising development in the EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations with regard to imports of e-bikes from mainland China, EBMA had informed the European Commission of its wish to withdraw its registration requests in a letter dated 8 October 2018. In that letter, EBMA did not provide any reasons for the withdrawal of the requests.
Indeed, EBMA had initially submitted its registration requests to the Commission in both the anti-dumping and the anti-subsidy investigations on 31 January 2018. According to EBMA, registration was felt to be justified due to the fact that significant injury to the Union industry was (it claimed) being caused by an acceleration of low-priced imports, which were undermining the remedial effect of potential definitive duties by allowing stockpiling ahead of the 2018 selling season.
In short, EBMA had requested that imports of e-bikes be made subject to registration so that definitive anti-dumping and countervailing measures, if imposed, could be applied retroactively to those registered imports.
The Commission followed EBMA’s argumentation and, by means of Implementing Regulation 2018/671, directed the national customs authorities to take the appropriate steps to register EU imports of e-bikes from mainland China from 4 May 2018. This registration created the possibility for a retroactive application of potential definitive duties from 4 May 2018.
Logically, the potential retroactive collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties created a large amount of legal uncertainty for EU importers. While the withdrawal of the registration requests would put an end to such uncertainty, coming as a huge relief to Chinese mainland exporters as well as many European companies, it now appears that the Commission is not planning to consider EBMA’s withdrawal request until the final assessment of the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations. This means, in turn, that the registration measure could continue until January 2019 and that, as a consequence, the uncertainty as to whether the Commission will impose the definitive duties retroactively on EU imports of e-bikes from mainland China as from 4 May 2018 will also continue until that moment in time.
Hong Kong sellers of e-bikes made in mainland China should also be aware of the fact that two EU importers have filed a motion with the EU General Court to strike down the Commission’s decision on registration, thereby seeking annulment of Regulation 2018/671.
As background, it will be recalled that, on 20 October 2017, the Commission initiated an anti-dumping investigation with regard to imports of “cycles, with pedal assistance, with an auxiliary electric motor” originating in mainland China. The Commission launched the investigation following a complaint lodged on 8 September 2017 by EBMA. This investigation is said to be one of the EU’s biggest trade defence cases, worth up to 400 million euros. On 21 December 2017, the Commission initiated a separate anti-subsidy investigation with regard to those same imports.
With regard to the anti-dumping investigation, through Implementing Regulation 2018/1012, the Commission imposed provisional anti-dumping duties ranging from 21.8 to 83.6 percent from 19 July 2018. According to Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, definitive anti-dumping duties will be imposed, at the latest, on 18 January 2019.
With regard to the anti-subsidy investigation, the deadline for imposing provisional countervailing duties has already expired. The deadline for imposing definitive countervailing duties is 19 January 2019. Taking into account that this will be a Saturday, the Commission will likely impose the definitive countervailing duties on 18 January 2019, together with the imposition of the definitive anti-dumping duties.