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Chinese Auto-Wheel Exporters Face Threat of Renewed EU Tariff

  • European Commission examines whether to prolong 22.3% duty
  • Trade case may revive concerns about extra costs for carmakers

The European Union threatened to renew a tariff on aluminum car wheels from China in a trade case that may revive concerns about extra costs for EU-based automakers.

The European Commission said it would examine whether to re-impose the 22.3 percent duty for another five years, a step sought by aluminum-wheel producers in Europe. The EU imposed the levy in October 2010 to punish Chinese exporters including YHI Manufacturing (Shanghai) Co. and Zhejiang Wanfeng Auto Wheel Co. for allegedly having sold the wheels in the bloc below cost, a practice known as dumping.

The review “will determine whether the expiry of the measures would be likely to lead to a continuation or recurrence of dumping” and “a continuation or recurrence of injury to the union industry,” the European Commission, the EU’s trade authority in Brussels, said on Tuesday in the Official Journal. The anti-dumping duty was due to expire on Oct. 29 and will now stay in place during the probe, which can last as long as 15 months.

Carmakers such as Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury autos, and Renault SA use the wheels, the EU said in 2010 when preparing to introduce the five-year trade protection. The bloc said at the time that the benefits of the duty for European aluminum-wheel producers would outweigh the disadvantages for carmakers, estimating that aluminum road wheels represented about 1 percent of the cost of a car and automakers would face a maximum cost increase of 0.22 percent.

Dumping Complaint

The inquiry into whether to renew the anti-dumping duty stems from a July 16 request by the Association of European Wheel Manufacturers, the commission said on Tuesday. In 2009, that association filed a dumping complaint against China that led to the imposition of the EU levy the following year.

Separately on Tuesday, the EU began an investigation into whether to renew anti-dumping duties as high as 53.2 percent against China on a chemical used in the construction, metals and food industries called sodium gluconate. The prolongation of those levies was requested by European manufacturers Jungbunzlauer SA and Roquette Italia SpA, according to the commission.

In a third trade decision affecting China on Tuesday, the EU dropped a threat to widen anti-dumping duties on heavy rolls of aluminum foil. The commission closed an inquiry into whether Chinese exporters of aluminum foil in rolls weighing more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and with a thickness of less than 0.021 millimeter dump the wrapping in the EU.

The EU already applies anti-dumping duties on aluminum foil from China in rolls weighing more than 10 kilograms and as wide as 650 millimeters (25.6 inches), with a thickness between 0.008 millimeter and 0.018 millimeter.

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