ESSEN, Germany (June 8, 2016) — The imposition of duties last year by the U.S. on imports of passenger and light truck tires from China has as yet not had a measurable impact on tire shipments in Europe, according to an expert from the market research company LMC International.
Speaking at the recent Future Tire Conference in Essen, Gerard Stapleton said that European production enjoyed a degree of “natural protection” due to the high proportion of winter and high-performance tires as well as the move in recent years to produce in central Europe for lower costs.
Mr. Stapleton is head of South East Asian research at LMC.
Future Tire was organized by European Rubber Journal, a United Kingdom-based sister publication of Tire Business.
The situation in 2015 is in contrast to that in 2009-13, Mr. Gerard said, when there was a steady increase of Chinese light vehicle tire imports into the EU during the three-year span when the U.S. imposed elevated tariffs on Chinese consumer tires. At that time, the number reached about 4 million tires, he said.
“China hasn't managed to increase its [export] volumes since this latest round of duties,” he said, “because they are unable to penetrate these high-performance and winter tire segments in the EU market,” Mr. Stapleton added.
Winter tires account for around 30 percent of the EU replacement market — albeit with fluctuations due to legislation and weather. These tires largely have remained premium products and their use is supported by legislation in some countries.
Another supporting factor, Mr. Stapleton continued, is the move of production by western European companies to lower-cost manufacturing in central Europe.
An exception is in the truck tire sector, however, where he said there has been a sharp rise in imports at the expense of retreads.
“Retreading facilities are being closed in Europe and the proportion of retreads has fallen in 2015 to less than 24 percent of the replacement market for medium to heavy truck tires sales,” he said.
This report appeared on the website of European Rubber Journal.