Lets not mince words: if the EU finds in favour of the EBMA, hundreds, if not thousands, of UK bike trade jobs will be lost.
Frames could cost 59 percent more; forks could attract an 89 percent levy. This is one dumping complaint too far and we need to combat it as a unit. Those suppliers who havent historically been members of the BA (what does it do for us?) ought to join now because their individual complaints will carry little weight with the EU which is swayed more by representations from official bodies.
Brian Montgomery, the head of COLIBI and EBMA (and an employee of Cycleurope, a key beneficiary of a successful dumping complaint against Taiwan and China), has angered much of the trade through the lodging of his latest complaint. Being head of both COLIBI and EBMA is clearly problematical.
Unusually, the BA have come off the fence on this issue and have written to the EU voicing their opposition to EBMAs complaint.
In all previous anti-dumping actions the BA has taken a neutral stance because its members are part of both EBMA (European Bicycle Manufacturers Association) and EBIA (the European Bicycle Importers Association).
Current BA members represent 85 percent of UK retail bicycle sales; employ 13 300 people and have a combined turnover of £630m. Those top-end suppliers who are not yet members of the BA should join as soon as possible. We need to fight on a collective front and the 85 percent of retail sales mentioned above could be 95 percent if the top-end suppliers joined the BA.
It cannot be emphasised enough that should the EU find in favour of EBMAs complaint and punitive duties are imposed on forks and frames (including aluminium, TIG-welded and carbon frames which are hardly dumped) the knock-on effect would be catastrophic. Those companies currently assembling bikes from Far Eastern constituent parts would be forced to import whole bikes rather than employ people in the UK to assemble. Those Far Eastern frames currently built up with some Euro components would have to be specced with Far Eastern parts only, damaging the whole Euro components industry. Jobs would be lost on both fronts there and prices of all bikes would rise dramatically, cutting sales and thereby leading to IBD closures and further job losses.
EBMA say a successful complaint would protect Euro jobs; most analysts agree it would have exactly the opposite effect.
The European bicycle trade has just a fortnight to gets its act together.
Looking on the positive side, the EBMA complaint may have to be withdrawn because first the Derby Group said it would not cooperate with the EU investigation and then today (10th November) the Accell
Group NV, Europes third largest bike manufacturer, said it also was withdrawing its support from EBMAs complaint. Such withdrawals of support will have to be heeded by the EU because it needs a quorum of at least 25 percent of the industry. Only Cycleurope of the major Euro companies is so far standing firmly behind its employee, Brian Montgomery.
Its possible that EBMA may have to withdraw its complaint, a massive climbdown, but as with all forms of bureaucracy the wheels - as it were - turn slowly and if the industry doesnt come out with full guns blazing on all fronts, a decision to uphold the complaint may take place in the meantime. Just because EBMA is on the ropes doesnt mean the industry shouldnt inflict the fatal blow.
NB Suppliers wishing to join the BA over this issue, and thereby present a united front, should call Starley House on 02476 553838.