European retreading market loses further ground to imports
A quarter of all truck tyres currently sold in Europe are imported, and as the manufacturers of these products don’t operate production facilities within the region, the tyres aren’t reported in Europool. The extreme nervousness these truck tyre imports are causing some corners of the market can be seen in the European Commission’s anti-dumping proceedings against bus and truck tyres originating in China, which began last summer. Usually the free trade-specialised EU favours other technical or qualitative restrictions to entry into the European market, such as the EU tyre label or other standards, yet as figures from the ETRMA frighteningly illustrate, such measures have no effect on the pressure placed upon European retreading by cheap Far Eastern tyres.
2016 represented a landmark year in the development of the European truck tyre market. Figures from the ETRMA, the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association, show that this was the year when – for the first time – more truck and bus tyres were exported to Europe from non-association member manufacturers than were retreaded in Europe. Imports amounted to 4.2 million units, retreads just under four million. This development intensified further last year. The association shared with Tyres & Accessories that, according to current figures and estimates, as many as 4.4 million truck and bus tyres neither produced here nor made by Europool-registered manufacturers were sold in the European market. This represents a year-on-year growth in imports of almost five per cent. At the same time, the overall market has slightly recovered from the slumps experienced in 2008/09 and again in 2012, and in 2017 had risen to 18 million tyres.
Retreading hasn’t profited from this development – on the contrary. Figures for 2017 show this to be a market in decline, a phenomenon affecting small, mid-sized and large retreader alike, without production beneath the four million thresholds. According to ETRMA figures, just 3.93 million truck and bus tyres were retreaded in Europe last year. The charts published together with this text show this amount to be almost 1.9 million retreads less than 2007, the starting point for our look at the statistics.
While the share of truck tyre imports from non-Europool registered manufacturers has constantly grown over the years and in 2017 represented 24.4 per cent of the entire market – compared with the ‘weak’ year of 2010, four times more non-ETRMA imported tyres currently arrive in Europe – retreading in comparison only holds a 21.7 per cent share. The corresponding figures for 2007 were 12.8 per cent for imports and 29.3 per cent for retreads. As the share held by retreading continually grew prior to and in 2012 and since then has continually shrunken, it may be hoped, in the interest of the European retreading industry, that this trend can again be reversed in good time. Only one thing in all this is clear: Retreading’s market share in Europe first fell with the (renewed) strong growth in new tyre imports from 2012.
An official decision has yet to be taken on whether the European Commission can successfully implement an anti-dumping proceeding against imported Chinese truck and bus tyres. However, the authorities in Brussels issued a regulation in February instructing national customs authorities to register relevant imports from China from now on. According to trusted sources, EU duties upon imports of truck tyres from China are indeed “well on track.” These sources stress that the question is no longer if relevant duties – possibly for an initial period of three years – will be levied, rather the question now centres upon the rate these duties will be levied at. And even if China should take legal action against such a decision, and we should assume that it will, the sources believe that duties will be introduced some time this year.