By Mike Davin
Since establishing a first-of-its-kind agreement with China in May to help regulate the quality of imports, Canada’s Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council (MMIC) has had an ongoing dialogue with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Motorcycles, which included a recent 12-day, seven-city trip to China by members of the MMIC.
MMIC President Bob Ramsay says during the trip, the two groups put in place a framework for the continued exchange of information and discussed the possibility of China joining North American industry associations in the United States and Canada.
“Their focus was really how to join an association. From their perspective, they felt like some of these regulations snuck up on them,” Ramsay said. “They want to understand the process and how they can affect it.”
The memorandum of understanding signed in May called for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Motorcycles, a relatively new group, to ensure Chinese manufacturers and distributors understood and complied with Canadian motorcycle and ATV standards. The power behind the agreement, or the “big hammer” as Ramsay called it, was the Chinese group’s export licensing powers, which allow it to prevent groups that don’t adhere to proper standards from legally exporting their products.
The MMIC and China have been in weekly contact since the agreement was signed, and during Ramsay’s trip to China, he says a formal process for the exchange of information was determined. Exchanges will occur bi-annually in August and February and consensus was reached on the types of information that will be traded, including compliance standards and other data.
During their visit, the secretary general of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Motorcycles accompanied representatives from the MMIC on a tour of various aspects of the Chinese motorcycle and ATV industries, including plants and compliance facilities. Between the trip and his ongoing dialogue with Chinese officials, Ramsay says he has a much better understanding of the Chinese market.
“There has been a reorganization of the industry, and they now feel that it’s better to have a few larger and more capable companies,” Ramsay said. “There is a growing understanding of the global and North American markets.”
Ramsay also thinks China is making a good-faith effort to improve the quality of its product.
“At one time there were 300 ATV manufacturers,” Ramsay said. “Now there are 60. That shows the impact strong compliance laws can have.”
Ramsay says he was reminded during the trip how interrelated the global market is. Last year, China exported 550,000 ATVs and 500,000 two-wheelers to the U.S. In 2008, China ATV exports are down about 60 percent because of a weaker market and regulations and two-wheeler exports are down slightly. In Canada, he says, things were less drastic, with two-wheeler exports dropping from 55,000 to 52,000 and ATV exports remaining steady.
Looking toward the future of the Chinese market, Ramsay saw a keen interest in exploring newer technologies, including electric ATVs and motorcycles. In addition, Chinese representatives expressed interest in taking part in North American consumer shows and being more involved with the industry.
A Chinese delegation was scheduled to meet with the MMIC in Toronto in mid-December for further discussions, and Ramsay said he will advise his U.S. counterpart about CCCM’s interest in participating in similar discussions with the U.S.
Dec. 22, 2008 – An ongoing exchange with China
By Mike Davin