The European Commission launched an investigation on Thursday into whether Chinese exporters of electronic bicycles (e-bikes) benefit from excessive State subsidies, increasing trade tensions between Brussels and China.
The anti-subsidy case supplements an existing inquiry into alleged dumping by Chinese producers of e-bikes in Europe and is the latest in a string of EU measures on Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel.
The European Bicycle Manufacturing Association (EBMA) lodged a complaint in November, saying that subsidies came in a wide range of forms, including preferential loans from State-owned banks, grants, export credits, tax breaks and the provision of land and raw materials at excessively low prices.
The association says that more than 430,000 Chinese e-bikes were sold in the EU in 2016, up 40 percent from the previous year, and forecasts the figure will rise to 800,000 in 2017.
Europeans buy some 20 million bicycles per year, of which about 10 percent are now e-bikes, with the potential to rise to a quarter within five years.