The European Union (EU) has imposed provisional anti-dumping duties of up to 20.6% on imports of aluminium vehicle wheels from China after a complaint of unfair competition from European manufacturers.

The European Commission (EC), the executive arm of the 27-nation EU, said an investigation had revealed imports of Chinese aluminium wheels, used by automakers such as Renault and BMW , harmed European producers, Reuters reported.

It said EU manufacturers had suffered a significant decrease in production and sales, and a loss of market share, as well as price depression due to cheaper imports from China.

“A provisional anti-dumping duty is hereby imposed on imports of aluminium road wheels … originating in the People’s Republic of China,” the commission was quoted as saying in the EU’s official journal.

Imports of Chinese wheels had increased by 66%, from 3.7m units in 2006 to 6.1m units by June 2009, and the country’s market share had nearly doubled from 6.3% in 2006 to 12.4% in 2009.

The news agency noted that China’s commerce ministry denied the dumping charges when EU trade regulators launched the investigation in August last year, and said the investigation was not in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Chinese officials had warned the investigation and duties imposed could raise the cost of repairs for customers, slow the recovery of the European auto sector and hurt the interests of both China and Europe.

The report said that and a decision affecting ropes and cables could spark another round of retaliatory measures from Chinese authorities in the growing spat between two of the world’s largest trading powers.

Last month, the Chinese government launched an anti-dumping investigation into a type of optical fibre imported from the United States and the EU and, last December, imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 24.6% on imports of steels fasteners from Europe.

The European Union, with a population of 500m people and a gross domestic product in 2009 of more than EUR12 trillion, is the world’s largest trading bloc by value, the report added.