UNIFE Director General, Philippe Citroën: “European rail supply manufacturers are under significant competitive pressure from emerging Asian industrial giants”

rail tracks and signals c Network RailA surge in low-cost EU imports of rail supplies such as engines or signals from non-EU countries, including China, is skewing competitive conditions for EU suppliers, MEPs warned, adding that much of this surge is due to strong political and financial support in exporters’ home countries. Parliament calls on the EU Commission to craft “a coherent EU trade strategy, which ensures compliance with the principle of reciprocity, particularly in relation to Japan, China and the USA.”

“These practices may constitute unfair competition which threatens jobs in Europe”, says the resolution, which was passed by a show of hands.

MEPs also ask that future EU trade agreements and revisions of existing ones should include “specific provisions which significantly improve market access for the European Rail Supply Industry (RSI), especially with respect to public procurement”.

This Resolution, prepared by Rapporteur Martina Werner, emphasises the strategic importance of the European rail supply industry to the EU economy and puts forward concrete proposals that could be undertaken by the EU institutions to boost the competitiveness of the European industry in the face of aggressive Asian competition.

UNIFE Director General, Philippe Citroën, remarked, “As this well-timed Resolution aptly points out, European rail supply manufacturers are under significant competitive pressure from emerging Asian industrial giants on global and now even on European markets. Meanwhile, these new competitors’ home markets continue to become less and less accessible to European companies, putting this job-creating, innovative and export-oriented European industry at a significant competitive disadvantage. We hope that Industry Commissioner Bieńkowska will take note of the strong messages voiced by the MEPs in support of our industry and we expect the Commission to put in place a structured industrial dialogue in the coming weeks to follow up on this Resolution.”

The European Parliament points out that the annual growth rate of the accessible RSI international markets is expected to be 2,8 % until 2019; stresses that while the EU is largely open to competitors from third countries, third countries have several barriers in place that discriminate against the European RSI.

MEPs accused Council of being “irresponsible and negligent” and urged it to deliver a new law without further delay, so as to enable the EU to respond faster and more effectively to imports of dumped and subsidized goods, given that China’s treatment under EU anti-dumping law could change from December 2016.

The European rail supply industry (RSI) includes numerous SMEs, as well as major industrial leaders, employs 400 000 employees, invests 2,7 % of its annual turnover in R&D and accounts for 46 % of the world RSI market.

The railway sector overall, including operators and infrastructure, is responsible for more than 1 million direct and 1,2 million indirect jobs in the EU.

The European Parliament urges the Commission, therefore, to support the targets for a modal shift to rail, for both passenger and freight, as formulated in the 2011 White Paper on transport with concrete policy steps and targeted investment.

The Parliament welcomes the decision to establish the ‘Shift2Rail’ (S2R) Joint Undertaking and the recent launch of the first calls for proposals; and also asks for swift and timely implementation of all S2R R&D activities as soon as possible.

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