It is now over a year since import tariffs, in some cases up to £60 per tyre, were imposed by the EU on truck tyres manufactured in China, and it would be completely correct to state that the development has ‘rocked’ the UK and European TBR tyre market.
Growing Interest in Alternative Supply Sources
With the ‘anti-dumping’ measure resulting in a significant decline in the sale of cheap Chinese tyres, it has led to a slow but steady resurgence in the demand for truck retreads whilst many wholesalers and distributors in the UK and across Europe have virtually stopped the TBR side of their operations.
So, when Commercial Tyre Business (CTB) attended the Autopromotec Show in Bologna in May it seemed like the perfect opportunity to chat in general with the manufacturers and Contract suppliers who offer truck tyres as part of their global product portfolio to see how they are coping with the current situation.
Most companies that CTB approached were happy to discuss their plans to combat the current import ban, with many manufacturers openly admitting that they have struggled to locate a suitable alternative production plant outside of China. The most popular countries that have been targeted are Thailand and Vietnam, although on several occasions CTB were informed that the process of locating a suitable manufacturing facility in these countries was a long and complex task.
When speaking to visiting and exhibiting wholesalers and distributors at the show, the general impression was that they have concentrated on their existing major A brands as a selling source whilst they look at sourcing and establishing a new (non-Chinese) brand for second tier and budget TBR tyres.
It seems the clear favourite location for new manufacturing facilities is Thailand which is currently the source of 37 per cent of the world’s new raw rubber supply, and this dramatic shift in interest is being supported by the Thai government, who are making high level investments in the tyre market structure to meet this development.
There is no doubt that the Thai government is currently doing everything it can to make the country more attractive for tyre business expansion and in particular upgrade the country’s rubber industry to meet the increased demand.