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Anti-Dumping – UK Probes Imports of Chinese Fibre Optic Cables

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022 (2:24 pm) - Score 4,224
fibre optic router and cables 2020

The UK Government’s Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), which is the arm’s length body at the Department of International Trade (DIT) and is tasked with investigating “unfair import practices and unforeseen surges of imports“, has opened two new investigations into imports of fibre optic cables from China.

As nearly all of our readers will already know, optical fibre cables transmit data using laser light and come in all sorts of different sizes and designs. Some are used in the access network to help bring gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband closer to homes, while others are used for core network connectivity, subsea links or high-capacity Ethernet connections (leased lines) for businesses and backhaul etc.

The cables themselves are fairly cheap, at least when compared with legacy copper lines, but they’ll still attract a fair cost when deployed at scale – something a lot of broadband operators are currently doing. Such cables can be purchased from various UK and European suppliers (e.g. Emtelle, Hexatronic, Prysmian etc.), but they may also be important from countries like China (not a week seems to go by without them spamming our inbox).

In this case, a complaint from Prysmian Cables & Systems Limited appears to have prompted the TRA to open two investigations into imports of single-mode optical fibre cables from China. The first (AD0021) is an anti-dumping investigation to determine whether imports of these products are being dumped in the UK at prices below what they would sell for in their home country.

The second (AS0022) is an anti-subsidy investigation to determine whether the Chinese imports entering the UK market are also benefiting from subsidies which lower their production costs. The investigations will naturally also consider whether these imports are damaging the UK industry for fibre optic cables.

The TRA intends to conduct an Economic Interest Test (EIT) as part of its investigation to assess whether a new trade remedy measure would be in the UK’s economic interest.

Oliver Griffiths, TRA Chief Executive, said:

“Fibre optic cable is broadband’s workhorse. These investigations will examine whether fibre optic cable from China is being traded unfairly and assess its impact on the UK economy.”

The TRA will now seek information from all interested parties to establish whether imports of fibre optic cables from China are being dumped in the UK at prices below their normal value, whether they benefit from government subsidies, whether these imports are causing injury to UK industry and whether it would be in the UK’s interests for measures to be put in place to mitigate any injury.

The period of investigation is 1st January – 31st December 2021, while the injury period is 1st January 2018 – 31st December 2021.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Mike says:

    How dare companies source cheaper goods which could lower costs for subscribers…

    1. Vince says:

      Except they might not lower costs or be a good deal – one altnet I know of bought lots of cheap chinese fibre cables, and have had to replace them as they were notoriously unreliable.

    2. Mike says:

      @Vince

      You get what you pay for, just another reason why it’s none of the state’s business.

    3. MattP79 says:

      You aren’t comparing two companies producing the same product at the same cost and one choosing to earn lower profit. The complaint is that Chinese companies are being subsidized by the Chinese government so to be able to sell their product below the cost of producing it. It is anticompetitive and it harms the viability of the industry in other (our!) countries. It might cause the cost of the product to be cheaper in the short term, but with no competitor the Chinese manufacturer can charge a premium and profit significantly in the long term.

    4. Mike says:

      @MattP79

      The ethics of dumping is one for consumers to decide when purchasing.

    5. Dave32 says:

      @Mike lol consumers don’t know what they want, business 101, so no it isn’t “their decision”. Also capitalism doesn’t work without regulation, wake up. Matt explained the issue quite clearly. A company using funding from elsewhere to unnaturally undercut the market thus making a loss in the short term, with the goal of becoming a monopoly in the long term to hike prices, is anti-competitive.

    6. Ethel Prunehat says:

      “The ethics of dumping” don’t work if the buyer doesn’t know the product has been dumped. It’s not exactly in the interest of the dumper to label the product as being dumped, so that means someone else has to flag it up. In this case, a tentacle of the government.

    7. Mike says:

      @Dave32

      Regulated capitalism = Socialism.

      And doing it in the ‘national interest’ makes it national s….

    8. PoliticalGenius says:

      Unregulated capitalism has been shown, repeatedly and without question to be a complete mess in the medium to longer term. It is *NEVER* in the interests of consumers. In the very shortest term it can sort of work. You have choice, competition and differentiation. Once you’re over the early stages of any new industry or growth area capitalism becomes a total and utter nightmare. Monopolies, duopolies, cartels, artificial barriers to entry, cross subsidisation all lead to a FAR worse outcome for consumers.

      The problem is capitalism may work when you have a truly competitive market with a low barrier to entry. However that market will quickly become dominated by a handful of “mega” companies who initially grow profits by killing and taking sales from other smaller companies until they leave the market. Also around this time barriers to entry often increase exponentially barring new entrants to established markets. Once those competing companies are gone and there are no “new” companies to buy or gain sales from the only way to continue growing is to increase the price to customers. That is *EXACTLY* what’s been shown to happen in every unregulated industry over and over again.

      The only person who ALWAYS loses with an unregulated capitalist market is the consumer.

  2. SupplyandDemand101 says:

    This is what Globilisation looks like in a “Free” & Open “GLOBAL” market Economy; yet in the same breath complain when our own economic interests are effected. Capitilism exist (albeit Crony-capitalism) is to find inefficiencies in markets where finding a solution to discover where segments of a marketplace is not fully optimized and step in to fill that need, in this case Demand. This is just Supply & Demand 101. Regarding the second TRA (AS0022) complaint to consider if this Demand to fill our Supply needs consitutes as a Subsidy to the .CH gov by the back-door or as breaking existing subsidy rules which unfairly puts our internal businesses at a disadvantage I can see this as relevant.
    Lets not forget China supplies the world and are able to produce goods we need at pace & scale. This is what our westen powers wanted to happen, its why Labour markets were decimated and shipped off-shore and many jobs were lost in the process, so we as a country can consume more stuff.. more cheaply… This article typifies the end product of fail policies over the years in this area. This is the cost we then now pay when we must compete with other economies such as China on our goods & services where we dont have the same resources or Labour forces to compete.

    1. Ethel Prunehat says:

      Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  3. Nigel Moore says:

    It should be mentioned that a similar anti dumping investigation took place in Europe and ant dumping tariffs are already in place for the EU. China has a natural monopoly on scale of production and, unregulated, they would naturally dominate and take over the market, same with Huawei switches etc. It will be interesting to see if DTI follows the EU lead.

  4. Xavier says:

    First I would like to reveal myself as a sales manager for a cable manufacturer Headquartered in China.

    1. “not a week seems to go by without them spamming our inbox”
    I can feel you because I actually “spammed” quite a lot of people in the industry. But I also want to say:
    “not a week seems to go by without Google spamming our inbox”
    “not a week seems to go by without Uber Eats spamming our inbox”

    Welcome to the 21st century.

    2. I feel bad for someone who had a bad experience with goods that happened to be Chinese goods. But you get what you paid for and most importantly, bad products can be from any country. Since the customers have limited control over the product itself, I would advise them to pay more attention to the selection of the supplier and inspection on the products. From my point of view, Chinese products shall not stand for bad quality and cheap price.

    3. For this anti-dumping, I just hope the decision-makers can also look at the potential impact on the supply chain, product availability, and the economy in general.

    4. For anyone needing good quality, cost-effective fibre cables and accessories, please check out ZTT Cable. We have a wide variety of cable and accessories, and some really good customer references in the UK and the rest of the world.

    Finally, I love this Website and has been following for a while. Keep up the good work!

    For any inquiries, or exchange of thoughts on this Anti-dumping case, please contact me via
    xavier.xu@
    zttcable.com

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