* EU impose up to 20.6 percent duties on Chinese wheels
* Says dumped wheels harm EU manufacturers
* Extends definitive duties on steel ropes
(Adds details, background, extend duties on steel ropes)
By Bate Felix
BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) - The European Union has imposed provisional anti-dumping duties of up to 20.6 percent on imports of aluminium vehicle wheels from China after a complaint of unfair competition from European manufacturers.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation EU, said on Tuesday an investigation had revealed imports of Chinese aluminium wheels, used by car makers such as Renault (RENA.PA) and BMW (BMWG.DE), harmed European producers.
It said EU manufacturers had suffered a significant decrease in production and sales, and a loss of market share, as well as price depression due to cheaper imports from China.
“A provisional anti-dumping duty is hereby imposed on imports of aluminium road wheels ... originating in the People’s Republic of China,” the Commission said in the EU’s official journal.
The Commission said imports of Chinese wheels had increased by 66 percent, from 3.7 million units in 2006 to 6.1 million units by June 2009, and its market share had nearly doubled from 6.3 percent in 2006 to 12.4 percent in 2009.
China’s Ministry of Commerce denied the dumping charges when EU trade regulators launched the investigation in August last year, and said the investigation was not in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
Chinese officials had warned the investigation and duties imposed could raise the cost of repairs for customers, slow the recovery of the European auto sector and hurt the interests of both China and Europe.
In another decision on Tuesday, the EU executive extended punitive tariffs of up to 60.4 percent on Chinese steel ropes and cables that are shipped through South Korea to evade EU import tariffs.
The decisions could spark another round of retaliatory measures from Chinese authorities in the growing spat between two of the world’s largest trading powers.
Last month, Beijing launched an anti-dumping investigation into a type of optical fibre imported from the United States and European Union, and last December, imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 24.6 percent on imports of steels fasteners from Europe.
The European Union, with a population of 500 million people and a gross domestic product in 2009 of more than 12 trillion euros, is the world’s largest trading bloc by value. (Editing by Dan Lalor and Andrew Macdonald)