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EU points the finger at China

Well, it had to happen; the European Union has announced it will start anti-dumping proceedings against China in respect of its ever swelling volumes of truck tyre imports into Europe.

The EU is already treading (sorry about the pun) a well trodden path in this respect behind the USA, India and others. As these markets got tougher for China’s tyre producers many turned their sights to Europe only to force already depressed prices even lower. Not clever. 

Chinese Heavy Truck (TBR) imports into the EU

2014 (est.) 2015 2016
Imports all countries (million units) 3.4 3.9 4.4
Imports from China (million units) 2.5 2.9 3.4

 

The consequences have been serious and not just for new tyre prices, retreaders have been hit even harder. Typically, these cheaper Chinese products easily undercut locally-produced retreads and there have been casualties amongst retread manufacturers whose anguish has been loud and vocal.

The real question is why Europe’s ivy-league tyre makers have been so slow to respond?

One reason of course must be that they themselves all produce tyres in China so are reluctant to be overly vocal in reacting to the situation. This is amply evidenced by the way in which the EU has been nudged into retaliatory action by a hitherto unheard of body coyly calling itself the Coalition against Unfair Imports. However, this curtain behind which they hide is rather thin and made all the more so by the claim that they collectively represent more than 45% of the total EU production of new and retreaded truck/bus tyres, I am just surprised it is as low as that but with Pirelli already in Chinese ownership I suppose we can discount them.

This is all rather reminiscent of a scene in Agatha Christie’s famous novel and movie Murder on the Orient Express. As the trains lights mysteriously fail the victim is killed from multiple stab wounds from a group of vengeful passengers none of whom could be individually accused. Now let’s turn the lights back on.

There is little doubt that Europe’s retreaders are suffering as a result of this deluge of cheap mostly one-life truck tyres primarily from China and something needed to be done before the damage got too great. Retreading is environmentally beneficial and we should not be afraid to say so. It also provides employment for many thousands of workers which is presumably the same rationale used by China as it continues to prop up some producers whose day has come …. and gone.

However, there is still just a little time left for the Chinese. The EU moves at glacial speed and its investigation of the anti-dumping charges against the PRC will extend over 15 months starting June 30 2017 so even if the case is proven China still has time to fill a few more of those containers and 2018 may prove yet another hard year for members of this shadowy coalition against unfair imports

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