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Threatened Mexico tariff would have little effect on US bike industry

Published June 5, 2019

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Early in this decade, the U.S. imported bike car racks, high-end road wheels, and the occasional road bike from Mexico. As recently as 2001, the U.S. imported hundreds of thousands of bikes annually from south of the border.

But more recently, Mexico has exported almost no bicycle products to the U.S., meaning President Donald Trump's threatened tariff on Mexican imports would have little or no direct impact on the bike industry.

Last year the U.S. imported just $409,076 worth of bike products from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs reports. More than half the total was parts & accessories. The U.S. also likely imported some cycling clothing, which Customs does not track separately from other sports clothing.

"There are really no makers of serious bicycle parts that could be considered for the USA market, or other markets for that matter," said Kim Ledlin Veilleux, the director of international commerce for Benotto, a Mexico City distributor.

Mexico once had a thriving bike manufacturing base, primarily for its domestic market, but Chinese imports devastated that industry in the 2000s. In 2014, the Mexican industry asked for an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese imports. In 2015 Mexican authorities imposed an anti-dumping duty on Chinese bikes of $13.12 per bike.

Yakima assembled racks in Tijuana, Mexico, for many years before moving production to China in 2011. Easton Cycling manufactured carbon wheels in Mexico for several years and moved production to Taiwan in about 2012, said Chris Tutton, the president of Fox Factory's sports specialty group, which now owns the Easton cycling business. 

Spinergy also manufactures wheels for wheelchairs and bikes in Mexico. 

As recently as 2009, the U.S. imported over $3 million in wheels from Mexico, Customs reports show, the largest annual total since at least 1992. But imports declined sharply after that year.

2018 Imports from Mexico:

  • Mountain bikes: $5,000
  • Road bikes: $2,803
  • Other bicycles: $9,416
  • Frames and forks: $12,569
  • Wheels, rims and spokes: $24,822
  • Hubs: $16,958
  • Brakes: $35,344
  • Pedals and related parts: $32,206
  • Other p&a: $269,958

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Economic Indicators Division

Topics associated with this article: Tariffs

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