Following a Transition Review, the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) announced a recommendation that could change the landscape of the electric bicycle (e-bike) market in the UK. The TRA has suggested revoking anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on e-bikes imported from China. This decision, which is said could potentially save the UK economy an estimated £51m per year, has sparked conversation about the role of tariffs in the modern economy.


What is the TRA?

The TRA is an independent UK body responsible for investigating whether trade remedy measures are needed to counter unfair import practices and unforeseen surges of imports. The TRA’s decision-making process is meticulous, involving gathering extensive data from businesses, importers and other interested bodies in order to perform economic interest tests. Transition reviews look at the 43 trade remedy measures carried over from the UK’s time as an EU member and whether they still suit the needs of the UK.


The Pros and Cons of Tariffs

Tariffs have long been a tool for governments to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. By imposing additional costs on imported goods, they can level the playing field for local producers. In the UK, tariffs have helped safeguard jobs and promote fair trade practices. They also provide additional revenue to the government and can prevent the market from being flooded with cheap, substandard goods.

However, the flip side of tariffs is equally significant. Higher tariffs can lead to increased prices for consumers, discourage imports, and reduce the variety of products available in the market. They can also strain international relations and provoke retaliatory measures from trading partners.


The E-Bike Tariff Scenario

The case of e-bikes is particularly interesting. The TRA’s proposal to remove tariffs comes after a thorough review, which concluded that the benefits to the UK economy and consumers would outweigh the potential injury to the domestic production industry. With e-bike sales in the UK reaching £325 million in 2023 and expected to grow, the removal of tariffs could save consumers around £260 per e-bike and result in an average of 31,000 more e-bikes being bought each year.

This decision reflects a broader trend towards considering the overall economic impact of tariffs, rather than solely focusing on protecting domestic industries. It acknowledges the dynamic nature of trade and the importance of consumer interests in policy-making.


Broader implications

The TRA’s announcement is a reminder of the delicate balance that tariffs represent. While they can protect and nurture domestic industries, they can also stifle growth and burden consumers. As the UK continues to navigate its post-Brexit trade landscape, decisions like these will be crucial in shaping a competitive and consumer-friendly market.

The TRA’s recommendation to revoke e-bike tariffs is a significant step towards adapting UK trade policies to the realities of a globalized economy. It underscores the need for a nuanced approach to tariffs, one that weighs both their protective benefits and their broader economic implications.


This post aims to provide a conversational overview of the recent TRA announcement and its potential implications for the UK market. For a more detailed analysis or legal advice on trade remedies and tariffs, please get in touch.


Punim Anda 

Director – Trade Remedies 

T: +44 (0) 117 902 7223