E-Bike Dumping Battle; EBMA Used Correct But ‘Illegal’ Chinese Export Data
BRUSSELS, Belgium – More striking developments are coming to light in the ongoing e-bike dumping battle between the European industry united in EBMA and Chinese exporters. In this battle data plays a vital role for evidencing that e-bikes imported from China are being stockpiled. Chinese officials have now surprisingly confirmed that the data used by EBMA is correct. However, they also claim this data is obtained illegally.
Already in last week’s report by Bike Europe on the ongoing e-bike dumping battle, Chinese export data on e-bikes was highlighted. What we reported was that “There’s no official Chinese data on its e-bike export to Europe as the Chinese government regards this export data as confidential. With that there’s no data to counter-argue what is being brought forward by the European Bicycle Manufacturers’ Association (EBMA). The association claims that stockpiling is taking place currently in Europe by importers of China made e-bikes. According to EBMA in the period of November 2017 to February 2018 imports increased by 180 to 215%. EBMA refers to two sources for this import data; Chinese Customs as well as Eurostat. As far as the Chinese Customs source goes; earlier EBMA stated that it is conducting its own e-bike export research through a team in place in China.”
Evidence of stockpiling could urge the European Commission in the coming days or weeks, but ultimately before July 20, to decide for the registration of imports as well the imposition of provisional anti-dumping measures.
EBMA data correct but illegal
What has come to light now is that at last week’s hearing organized by the European Commission it has been stated by Chinese officials that EBMA’s data is correct. This has been confirmed by officials of the China Chamber of Commerce for Imports and Exports of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), as was reported by the widely respected ‘Politico’ news agency on the hearing. The Politico report says “CCCME, surprisingly, said the data was official Chinese data: Officials from the chamber said the data on exports to the EU and costs must have been taken from official Chinese datasets and argued European bike makers must have obtained those numbers illegally. Hence, the source should be revealed.
“Asked about the allegations, a spokesperson for the European bike makers said that “As far as EBMA is aware, the data provided by EU producers to the Commission was acquired legally” and added that “the most important point is that the data is accurate and it reflects official Chinese export data.”
Clarification by importers collective
The Collective of European Importers of Electric Bicycles clarified this matter further. Its statement says “Bike Europe’s report on last week’s press meeting stated incorrectly that the Chinese government regards its export data as confidential. Under the Chinese 8 digit export code HS 87119010 (电动自行车 – diandongzixingche), there are general export statistics 电动自行车 – diandongzixingche, which means electric self-propelling vehicles. These statistics are not accurate to determine the export of electric bicycles, because they also include other electric self-propelling vehicles such as for instance monowheels, electric scooters, hoverboards, etc. Under the Chinese 10 digit export code HS 87119010, all details about the individual export transactions are available, such as name of exporter, type of product, export value, etc. It is this information under this 10 digit export code, which the Chinese government regards as confidential. There is nothing exceptional about this, Eurostat does not provide any commercial details on the general import statistics either.
“The problem that the Collective is confronted with is that EBMA is building the whole case on statistics under this 10 digit export code. EBMA claims that they have been able to obtain these statistics against a fee. This allegedly has allowed them to sift the statistics and present Chinese exports of electric bicycles only. However, EBMA claims that they cannot disclose the identity of the information provider because “it would be of significant disadvantage to the party providing the data”. EBMA further states: “Disclosure of the source would manifestly and irresponsibly expose an unrelated third party service provider to potential economic retaliation because it has provided data to EU complainants in this significant anti-dumping investigation.”
“The Collective has on several occasions requested the Commission to disclose the identity of the provider because that it is the only way to allow the Collective to check the statistics on which the EBMA is basing the whole case. All this raises the question as to how this “unrelated third party service provider” was able to obtain and sell information on the 10 digit export code, which is classified in China. And another key question is: why not just using Eurostat-statistics, since Eurostat is the official data supplier of the European Union.”
Confirmation on matching export/import data
Exactly this question has been raised earlier by Bike Europe. Last November EBMA presented clarifications on that. At that time the Association provided detailed data that differed significantly from Eurostat’s 2015 and 2016 e-bike import figures as these were ‘polluted’ with imports of other vehicles like hoverboards.
Last November the European Bicycle Manufacturers’ Association said that, because of the ‘polluted’ Eurostat data, it started an investigation on the e-bike import from China which learned that China’s customs data have a detailed and correct description of (pedal assisted) e-bikes. Next to that the EBMA investigation revealed that the export data by China’s customs office to be “very precise”. EBMA’s Secretary General Moreno Fioravanti said on this “We examined very carefully all China customs data with all the descriptions of each export. Our investigating team in China did a very complicated and detailed work for the last 3 years.”
In this report EBMA’s SG Moreno Fioravanti also says “The EU and Eurostat is per 1 January 2017 tracking the e-bike import under the new CN Codes. That allowed EBMA to confirm the accuracy of Chinese export data. The export data from the Chinese Customs and the Eurostat data finally match, thanks to the new code and the much more precise product descriptions.”