BRUSSELSGrowing competition from tire makers outside the European Union poses a major threat to the European Union's growth and job prospects, the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA) stated in a new publication.
Since 2007, tire production has declined by 9.1 percent, the association said in its most recent European Tyre Industry Facts & Figures. This poses a major threat to the EU's future growth and job prospects.
Imports have grown steadily in a higher proportion since 2013. At the same time, several major export destination countries have raised significant trade barriers through technical regulations making European exports increasingly difficult.
The ETRMA said the share of the European market held by the top 10 EU-based manufacturers has fallen 20 percentage points since 2000 to 63 percent.
In addition, the ETRMA said the tire industry is facing extra costs because of the EU Emissions Trading System, adding that the costs have put another burden on the competitiveness.
In terms of technology, the EU tire market invests about 3.5 percent of its annual sales revenue in innovation every year, said the document.
Each of the major companies holds approximately 5,000 patents (in products, processes and equipment), it added.
The ETRMA has 12 global tire makers as its members with 90 tire plants and 16 research and development centers located in the EU. The industry produces roughly 300 million passenger tires and 17 million truck tires annually, employing about 200,000 workers.
The EU is still a net exporter of tires, the association's figures show. While EU-based companies produce 300 million passenger tires a year in Europe, the EU market is just 263 million tires sold.
At the same time, the ETRMA reported the EU replacement market for consumer and commercial tires grew 2 percent in the first half, to 100.8 million and 4.4 million, respectively. Shipments of agricultural tires, on the other hand, fell 13 percent in the period.
OE consumer and commercial tire shipments also were up, 2 percent for consumer and 9 percent for commercial, to 46.6 million and 2.9 million units, respectively.
Shahrzad Pourriahi is a reporter for European Rubber Journal, a United Kingdom-based sister publication of Tire Business.