In order to get the latest on the state of the Chinese industry and the latest on the anti-dumping investigation that is currently being carried out by the European Commission, I travelled to the 22nd China International Bicycle & Motor Fair (better known as the Shanghai show) last month.
It turned out to be an interesting visit. What was particularly striking was the fact that China is becoming more and more brand-conscious. The same type of demand for big BMW’s and Mercedes is also seen in the desire for Western brand names in bikes and bike products.
My last visit to the Shanghai Show was in 2009. At that time only a few brands were paying attention to China – at the show with a booth for commissioning importers and/or regional distributors. Those few have grown into as a pretty good representation of big and important names from Europe and the United States. Dozens and dozens of the most renowned Western companies were at the Shanghai Show. And they were all there with an eye of what’s to come in China.
The China Bicycle Association made a statement on what that future has in store for the bike market in China. President Zhongchao Ma predicted that in three years the China market will be the biggest in the world for mid to high-end bikes. To reach that goal, all over the vast country cycling clubs are founded. And during my Shanghai visit I saw a fully fledged road racer; the first one I have ever seen in China, after more than a dozen visits in about ten years. Will this trendsetter inspire millions and provide a huge boost to the sluggish domestic market where 2011 sales stood at about 28 million units? Judging by the newcomers from Europe and the US at the Shanghai Show, they are all counting on it.
All these well known brand names made me think on the current review of the dumping measures for Chinese bikes that are imported into Europe. Apart from the legalities one could ask this question: is it fair to block the EU markets from bikes made in China when at the same time many European brand names are invading China?
I expect that the people handling the review on the dumping measures will say that it is irrelevant on this question. They will say that the review is all about legal matters; about whether China is dumping (selling bikes for lower prices as on its domestic market) its products on the EU markets; whether China is illegally re-routing its bikes destined for Europe and whether China is illegally offering subsidies to its bike exporters. Of course all this matters. But still…