Not everyone is as happy as the European cable makers, including Deutsche Telekom
The European Commission has imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of fibre optic cables (OFC) from China ranging between 17 and 44%.
The Commission found that the heavily state-subsidised “Chinese optical fibre cable industry has benefitted from unfair competitive advantage, allowing it to increase significantly exports to the EU at heavily undercut prices during recent years”.
Europacable, the trade association for Europe’s wire and cable producers, filed the complaint about the alleged dumping pratices with the Commission and welcomed the imposition of anti-dumping duties and the anti-subsidy duties that it expects the Commission to impose shortly.
It said in a statement that these actions “constitute a necessary and long-awaited step on a path towards restoring a level playing field in the European market for optical fibre cables”.
Where is the operators' support?
Not everyone takes the same view. The EU Regulation 2021/2011 which imposes the anti-dumping duties on imports of optical fibre cables from China outlines its investigation, and notes that few consumers of OFC took part in the Commission’s investigation and only two network operators – Belgium’s Proximus and Deutsche Telekom (DT).
The Commission estimates that in total these investigation participants account for less than 12% of all OFC imports from China to the EU and less than 9% of total OFC in the EU during the investigation.
The Commission’s Regulation states, “[DT] argues that anti-dumping duties on OFC from China can lead to significant issues to secure Union cable demands and risk hindering or delaying network rollouts and would lead to a significant cost increase for EU customers.
“It also claims that prices have decreased due to existing overcapacities and all players have invested in increasing capacity during the alleged shortage of supply a few years ago.”
The Commission acknowledges its actions are likely to increase the cost of OFC but sees this as removing a distortion from the market.
The Regulation also noted, “Furthermore, the investigation established that OFC represents only a minor share of the total rollout cost of digital networks projects—in the case of 5G being much less than 5 %.
“The purchases of the product under investigation by the cooperating telecom operators represent a marginal percentage of company turnover, and the firm purchase a significant part of its OFC from other sources.”
Europacable and its members said they “will spare no effort to ensure that the EU remains a
technological leader and that its industry is able to meet the challenges facing this
strategically important yet highly competitive sector”.
The trade association also said it would monitor events carefully to ensure the measures are applied correctly.