Tyremaker Bridgestone is concerned a US-China tyre tariff dispute could hurt its European business.

“Maybe China will export more tyres to Europe now,” Bridgestone Europe CEO Toru Tsuda told Reuters in Frankfurt on Wednesday, adding that the conflict was so new the actual impact was hard to estimate.

The US has decided to impose special duties on Chinese tyres while China sees this as an abuse of World Trade Organisation measures.

Bridgestone nonetheless expects European sales, which acccount for 15% of its global total, to rise next year. “We will see double-digit growth in the second half of 2010”, Tsuda was quoted as saying. “But it will probably take until 2014 until we reach 2007 levels.”

“Bridgestone will be profitable (at a group level) in 2009 and 2010,”, Tsuda said.

He said the company was not interested in Continental’s tyre business, which analysts have said could be sold after the company merges with key shareholder Schaeffler Group.