By on May 12, 2010

Now that the Conservatives (with the help of the Liberal Democrats) have come to power in the UK, the Conservatives are going to push forward their plans for a reduction in the UK deficit (i.e savage cuts). Now, while I agree in the long term, this will be good for the UK, in the short term, it will cause higher unemployment and severe “belt tightening”. The UK isn’t the only country with this frame of thinking. Only today, the Spanish government has announced deep budget cuts in order to reduce their deficit and to prevent markets from thinking of them as the next “Greece”. So, with the UK and Spain making these budget cuts, the Euro looking unsteady and Greece still not convincing markets, what else could make Europe stare at another recession? That’s right, a possible trade war.

Reuters reports that The European Union (EU) has imposed provisional anti dumping duties of of up to 20.6 percent on aluminum wheels from China. The EU did this after complaints from domestic competition arose.

Who will be hurt first? European companies like Renault and BMW. The use these Chinese wheels on their cars. Lots of other EU car manufacturers source their alloy rims in China. It needs a strong technological regimen to make them pass stringent ECE rules.

Naturally, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce denies any dumping charges and said that the investigation was not in line with World Trade Organization rules. In other words, “Stop picking on us”. The Chinese officials then tried to appeal to the good nature of the EU by saying that these duties could raise the cost of repairs for customers (concern for the European customer? How sweet!), slow the recovery of the European auto sector (Actually, Opel is probably doing more for that cause than some aluminum wheels) and hurt the interests of both China & Europe (Ah! That’s more like it!).

I don’t speak fluent “bureaucrat”, but after watching many episodes of “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister”, I’m pretty sure that “hurt the interests of” usually means “trade war” or such like. Mind you, to play Lucifer’s Advocate for a second, China aren’t exactly clean in this exchange of barbs. In December, they imposed a 24.6 percent anti dumping duty on steel fasteners from Europe and last month, launched an investigation into a type of optical fibre imported from the United States and Europe.

With trade between the EU and China (as of 2008) worth €326 billion, this is an area which both countries will need to tread carefully. The EU is the largest trading partner with China and if the EU annoys China, maybe some of that trade will go to China’s other large trading partner, the United States. Or on second thoughts, maybe not…..?

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17 Comments on “Trade War Watch 14: Hot Wheels...”

  • avatar

    Perhaps a Hawley-Smoot 2.0? I’m sure this time it’ll work.


    Just write another bailout check. Someone may cash it.

  • avatar

    All the 1st world is going to get PWNED by the chinese… even worse in the future.

  • avatar

    Yes, one doesn’t want any “savage cuts” or “belt tightening”. Best to ignore the situation until you go “bankrupt”. Or do you think there’s endless liquidity left in the world to save you?

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan


      Your comment had led me to infer 2 things:

      1. You clearly didn’t read the article well. Because had you have done, you would have noticed that I “agree in the long term, this will be good for the UK”.

      2. You probably won’t read this comment properly either.

    • 0 avatar


      Maybe if the media would talk about “savage” spending increases (which is what has really happened in the US, both state and federal, I can’t comment on the UK) and “prudent” and “reasonable” spending decreases some of us would not be so quick to cry foul. But this smacks of a certain novel by a certain British author about a certain year and the use of “new speak” (I’m not saying you are engaging in this, but the media in general).

  • avatar

    Cammy, are you turning Yankee? Twice you left out the second “i” in “aluminium”!

  • avatar

    Charles Martin Hall is rolling over in his grave. “Hall is considered the originator of the American spelling of aluminum. According to Oberlin College, he misspelled it on a handbill publicizing his aluminum refinement process. The process was so revolutionary, and brought the metal to such prominence, that Americans have spelled aluminum with one “i” since. In the United Kingdom and other countries using British spelling, only aluminium is used. The spelling in virtually all other languages is analogous to the -ium ending.” — From

  • avatar

    Everything I needed to know about politics, I learned from either “Yes, Minister” or “To Play The King”.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Typical OEM price for an aluminium wheel is the price of the aluminium plus 15-50 bucks for casting, tooling refurb, heat treat, machining, painting and/or sealing, inspection, and boxing and delivery. And profit. The average wheel weighs about 25-30 lb, so you can imagine how much I laugh when I see the price of aftermarket wheels, which usually have the structural integrity of an easter egg (big clue – if it is gravity cast you’d better not kerb it). Aluminum spot price is about $2 per lb, or a bit less.

    Anyone paying more than double that retail is putting a grin on someone’s face.

    Now, aluminium in China is probably made from coal, whereas aluminium made in Europe is made from windmills or uranium. Coal is a much cheaper source of aluminium than windmills. So either the Euros buy in their aluminium from overseas, paying somebody else to make it, or they wear the additional cost of making it from windmills.

    So what looks like dumping could well be because the Chinese have cheaper aluminium.

    • 0 avatar

      Aluminum smelters are normally located where there is cheap electric power, most commonly hydroelectric. A paid-for nuclear plant is probably second best.

      I’m sure nobody is smelting aluminum with wind power right now. The Chinese can compete producing aluminum with coal-fired electric only because of near-zero cost labor and no environmental controls. Unlikely to last.

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