Industry insiders say the European Union's decision to re-impose a 44.6 per cent anti-dumping duty on imports of Chinese colour TV sets will have little impact on Chinese manufacturers.
The EU made the announcement over the weekend in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The EU adopted anti-dumping measures on imports of cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs from China in 1998.
But in 2002, it accepted a "joint undertaking" with seven Chinese TV makers and waived the tariff under the agreement.
The TV makers were Haier Electrical Applicance Corp Ltd, HiSense Import and Export Co Ltd, Konka Group Co Ltd, Sichuan Changhong Electric Co Ltd, Skyworth Multimedia International (Shenzhen) Co Ltd, TCL King Electrical Appliances (Huizhou) Co Ltd, Xiamen Overseas Chinese Electronic Co Ltd.
The EU said it requested on-the-spot verification visits on the premises of Xiamen Overseas and Konka Group, but were rebuffed by Konka Group.
Because this broke the terms of the 2002 agreement, the EU decided to re-issue the anti-dumping duty.
However, insiders said the anti-dumping duties might not have the desired punitive effect on the TV makers.
"It will not have a big impact on us," said Zhu Shuqin, an official with HiSense.
She said the EU penalties pointed at low- and medium-end CRT TVs, but these products only account for a tiny proportion of the company's exports to the EU. Major exports to the European countries are liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs and plasma TVs.
According to statistics from China's commerce ministry, the seven enterprises that joined the undertaking exported 15,885 TV sets to the European economic bloc in the first eleven months of last year, accounting for less than 10 per cent of the quantity the EU allowed.
China's CRT TV exports to the EU slipped 14.3 per cent year-on-year in 2005 and exports of LCD TVs and plasma TVs grew 17.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively year-on-year.
Zhu was echoed by Changhong's Liu Zhonghai as saying the EU decision had little impact on his company.
Liu implied each company had its own way to deal with the duties.
Besides developing high-end products, many large Chinese TV makers have established manufacturing centres overseas to minimize the challenges from anti-dumping measures.
For example, HiSense has factories in Hungary and France, TCL has set up plants in Poland and Mexico and Haier has 13 overseas manufacturing bases.
Konka Group, which refused the EU inspection, last week said that Chinese television makers were being unfairly targeted as part of a broader trade conflict between China and the EU.
"The root cause for the trade conflict between China and the EU is derived from the EU's refusal to grant China market economy status," it said.
The company said the price companies agreed in the undertaking was currently more than 60 per cent higher than the market price, which had shut the company out of the European CRT market.
It added that the EU's actions would not stop Chinese TV makers' overseas expansion.
An official with China's Ministry of Commerce, the trade industry watchdog, said the EU had the right to re-impose tariffs on Chinese enterprises in this case but it was not justified in continuing to decline to grant China the market economy status, which affects all anti-dumping cases.
Source: China Daily