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Taiwan Official Urges End to Tariffs

Published September 7, 2008

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN)—Even though talks over a comprehensive global trade agreement have faltered, Taiwan is encouraging countries to eliminate tariffs on bicycle imports.

“This is one of the top three trade issues for Taiwan,” said Yi-fu Lin, the island nation’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

Lin, who is based in Geneva, Switzerland, attended Eurobike Friday and spoke at Friday night’s Eurobike Taiwan Cycle Night, sponsored by the Taiwan Bicycle Exporters Association and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

Ying-Ming Yang, chairman of the TBEA, said some bicycle organizations have endorsed the “zero-tariff” proposal including the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association of the United States.

“Within the WTO, the trend is to reduce import duties,” Yang said. He noted that the proposal does not address anti-dumping duties, which countries are free to impose if they believe manufacturing nations are unfairly under-pricing their exports.

Taiwan argues that consumers would save millions of dollars a year if tariffs—which in some countries are as high as 40 percent—were eliminated. The savings would be most significant in developing countries, where bicycles are essential for transportation.

“A more affordable consumer price for bicycles will …. enhance personal mobility, especially in the least-developed countries, and that will allow improved access to education, facilitate the transportation of products to market, and thus be expected to make a substantial contribution to higher incomes,” Taiwan’s proposal to the WTO stated.

The European Union imposes a 15 percent tariff on complete bicycles imported from Taiwan, and a 4.7 percent duty on most parts and accessories.

In the United States, tariffs range from 5.5 percent to 11 percent on complete bikes, and zero to 10 percent on accessories.

Taiwan also is pushing for the elimination of tariffs on sporting and hand tools.

—Doug McClellan

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