EU puts spoke in wheel of cheap Chinese e-bike imports

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Chinese electric bicycles will have to be registered in the EU in a move by the bloc to curb cheap imports which European manufacturers say are flooding the market.

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The European Commission had sufficient evidence to show that Chinese manufacturers were dumping e-bikes - which have electric motors to help with pedaling - in Europe and were receiving subsidies, the European Union’s official journal said.

In the latest in a series of EU studies into and measures against Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel, the Commission has launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into e-bikes.

The registration system for e-bikes would allow eventual duties to be backdated to early in May, the EU journal said.

The European Bicycle Manufacturers Association (EBMA), whose complaints prompted the investigations, says Chinese companies are selling e-bikes in the EU at prices which are sometimes below the cost of production, aided by subsidies.

EBMA had called for registration, arguing that a surge of low-priced imports could result in a stockpile before the main 2018 selling season, undermining the effect of potential duties.

The Commission has until July 20 to determine whether to impose provisional anti-dumping duties. If imposed, they would also apply to the period during which imports are registered. The EU official journal said that this would start on Friday.

The Light Electric Vehicle Association in Europe, a group of retailers, distributors and producers opposed to measures, said the registration move was a setback, but that duties were not a certainty. Retroactive collection of them would be confirmed only by a final EU decision expected in January 2019.

Exports from Chinese producers, which include Battle-Fushida, Aima and Tianjin Golden Wheel, rose by 82 percent from November 2017 to February 2018, compared with the same period a year earlier, the journal said. Prices were 8 percent lower.

Taiwan's Giant 9921.TW, one of the world's largest bicycle makers with factories in China as well as the Netherlands, had denied that imports rose substantially, the EU journal said.

EBMA said it welcomed what it said was a vital first step to defend the EU industry, coming in time to prevent a surge of e-bike imports through the main summer sales months.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alexander Smith and David Stamp