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September 01, 2007

Margot's Back!!

Usual level of thought here:

The first meeting of the Commission dealt with issues like antidumping measures for energy saving light bulbs from China. The Commission recommended to the Member States that ‘anti-dumping‘ duties on energy-saving light bulbs from China be removed in the next year. There was a good discussion on this complex issue. The reason for imposing duties in the first place was to protect European companies from unfair competition so an assessment was needed as to whether they were still needed. On the one hand there are environmental considerations: we should be encouraging the use of energy-saving light bulbs where possible. But anti-dumping duties obviously increase the price to the consumer. One of the key factors was that the EU can only produce about 25% of its demand for energy saving light bulbs through domestic production. In the end the Commission decided to discontinue these measures but to allow a year for companies to adjust to the new situation.

Yes, it's good that they're going to lift the duties, yes, good that they realise that the whole damn point of trade is to get the things that we cannot make ourselves (or not as efficiently).

What does annoy though is this blathering about "European companies". There are only three large makers of CFLs. Osram, GE and Phillips. All have factories around the world: but only one has major production in the EU. What this catfight has been about is not, however absurd the argument is in reality, whether some stalwart Mettelstand company is being crushed by underpaid and exploited Chinese peasants. Rather, should the multinational with a factory in the EU be protected from the two multi-nationals which do not? And, to add to the joy, all three have Far East factories.

Put that way even the one year delay is ludicrous.

Just to add to this nonsense over points of origin. What we're talking about here is only where the things are assembled. All, (yes, all) of the mercury charges that make the things work come from Illinois, for example.

September 1, 2007 in European Union | Permalink


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I don't care who makes them, or where... They're bloody awful things, and I for one have started stockpiling incandescents!

Posted by: pogo | Sep 1, 2007 1:04:27 PM

You deserve some sort of award for being able to read her entire posts. By the third sentence my eyes were glazing over.

Posted by: Long Island | Sep 1, 2007 2:38:32 PM

All, (yes, all) of the mercury charges that make the things work come from Illinois

That's something I didn't know. Any reason why?

Tim adds: It's one of those oddities, where having a monopoly supplier is actually efficient....or at least efficient enough that no one bothers to try and break the monopoly. The investment needed to make the various additives needed to make the various sorts of bulbs work (cfls, metal halides etc) and the size of the subsequent market and its value are such that just one company has the vast share of it (there's a Japanese producer for their domestic market, I think).

Our own situation in supplying scandium to this same market is analagous. Anyone out there could spend a year or so making the contacts, working out how the system works, providing samples, etc etc etc. They could then compete with us. No one does (or has done, yet, at least) as the prize isn't worth the work. Or rather, 30%, 40%, 50% of the market isn't worth that work.

At some point the technology will change completely and we might find ourselves out in the cold: or it might be us that changes the technology for fear of that (and we do work on it for that reason).

Not all that great a surpirse that markets in the real world do not have a multitude of competing suppliers: but as our own spending on research shows, even the threat of their being one possibly in the future makes it a reasonable approximation.

Posted by: Philip Hunt | Sep 1, 2007 3:15:13 PM

I keep reading about these, and nobody points out that the biggest change in domestic lighting over the last 15 years has not been the low-energy bulb, but the introduction of halogen lighting in kitchens and (often) bathrooms. Often the same green types who have a few enegy-savers in the living room get their bathroom remodelled with 4 x 50w of recessed halogens, replacing the old 100w incandescent. Kitchens routinely have 2-300w of halogens when 20 years ago they might have had 70 watts of fluorescent tubes.

We stayed in a holiday cottage a week back with 15 50 watt halogens in the admittedly large kitchen, 750 watts !

Posted by: Laban Tall | Sep 1, 2007 8:16:51 PM