EU opens investigation into Chinese e-bike imports

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday launched an investigation into the import of electronic bikes (e-bikes) from China after European producers complained that they are being sold at excessively low prices with the help of unfair subsidies.

The European Bicycle Manufacturers Association (EBMA) lodged its complaint in September, saying that Chinese companies were flooding the EU market at prices sometimes below the cost of production.

The Commission, which oversees trade policy among the EU’s 28 member states, said in a filing in the EU’s official journal there was sufficient evidence to justify the start of an anti-dumping investigation. It would be concluded within 15 months.

The EBMA is also preparing a related complaint alleging illegal subsidies and asking for registration of Chinese e-bike imports, which could allow eventual duties to be backdated.

Such an investigation would be the latest in a string of probes into Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel and could raise trade tensions with Beijing, particularly with a subsidy inquiry into the support provided by the Chinese state.

China’s commerce ministry said it would defend its companies’ interests and urged the EU to respect World Trade Organization rules, telling the EU not to let its investigation lead to protectionism.

Bicycles have already been a flashpoint. The EU accused China last December for scuttling a global environmental trade deal by insisting that bicycles be included as a tariff-free green product. Chinese conventional bicycles have been subject to EU anti-dumping duties since 1993.

The EBMA said more than 430,000 Chinese e-bikes were sold in the EU in 2016, a 40 percent increase on the previous year, and forecasts the figure will rise to around 800,000 in 2017.

The group said European companies had pioneered the pedal-assist technology that e-bikes use and had invested about 1 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion) last year, but was risking losing its industry to China.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

As Ford pushes into electric vehicles, U.S. union aims to save jobs

DETROIT (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers is talking with Ford Motor Co (F.N) about ways to avoid layoffs as the No. 2 U.S. automaker builds more electric vehicles, a senior union official told Reuters on Thursday.

Ford told investors Tuesday it planned to slash $ 14 billion in costs over the next five years and shift investments away from internal combustion engines and sedans to develop more trucks, plus electric and hybrid cars.

“We’ve been doing our due diligence to find out how much it (electrification) means to us,” UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, head of the union’s Ford department said in a telephone interview. “We put them on notice early on that we want to be part of this process.”

“Up to this point they (Ford) have been agreeable that it’s in the best interest of the company and also our members for us to be part of the process,” he added.

Ford’s push into electric comes after Detroit rival General Motors Co (GM.N) unveiled plans to add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023.

Ford’s presentation to investors this week under new chief executive Jim Hackett, included a slide touting a 30 percent reduction in “hours per unit” to build electric vehicles.

Fewer hours mean fewer workers.

German automaker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) warned last month that electric Mercedes models would initially be just half as profitable as conventional alternatives – forcing the group to find savings by outsourcing more component manufacturing, which may in turn threaten German jobs.

The UAW’s Settles said he had met one-on-one with Hackett, a former CEO of office furniture maker Steelcase Inc (SCS.N) and in a meeting with union leaders in recent weeks.

He said Hackett’s message had been that he wants to find new opportunities for UAW workers as electrification evolves.

“The assembly may be different, but he’s not looking to eliminate any jobs,” Settles said of Hackett. “He’s been consistent in what he’s saying and I‘m optimistic he means it.”

The UAW vice president said the union and automaker had assembled teams to discuss future jobs, including for production workers and skilled trades workers, Settles said.

Settles said Ford’s announcement in March that it would invest $ 200 million on a new data center in Michigan could create new union-represented, technology-related jobs.

“We need further communications on what it means in terms of jobs,” he said.

Ford has completed 85 percent of its 2015 union contract target of creating or retaining 8,500 union jobs by 2019 and could hit 100 percent by the end of 2017, Settles said.

A Ford spokeswoman said the company and the UAW are in “constant communications about the business.”

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

MIT Is Dragging Hard-Wired Network Chips Into the Agile Era

Cloud computing is changing the demands on networks more quickly than ever. Now researchers say it’s possible to program routers all the way down to their packet-forwarding chips in the quest to keep up.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and five other organizations have found a way to make data-center routers more programmable without making them slower. This could allow enterprises to take advantage of new traffic and congestion management algorithms without replacing their routers.

The project takes SDN (software-defined networking) beyond the control plane, where things like configuration are handled, and into the data plane that actually forwards packets. Now programmers can change how the network decides which packets to send and which to keep in a buffer, for example. Eventually, that might mean deploying networks with fewer routers.

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

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This Slack bot turns everyday conversation into a game of numbers


If you’ve been looking for new ways to liven up discussions with your team on Slack, this bot might be just what you need. Scorebot is a fun chatbot integration for Slack that lets you turn everyday conversation into a fierce competition of numbers. Once Scorebot is invited to a channel, it’ll let users assign positive or negative point values via emoji allowing you to score authors with the best or worst messages. Whenever someone reacts to a Slack message, Scorebot awards corresponding points to the author, keeping score in a leaderboard everyone in the channel can participate in. Additionally, the bot…

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FanDuel acquires AlphaDraft to get into esports

This room is filled with people who would potentially love to play daily-fantasy esports.

Big companies are starting to see a lot of potential to make money in esports.

A day after DraftKings announced it’s expanding into esports next month with daily-fantasy games for League of Legends, competitor FanDuel is doing the same through an acquisition. The company has purchased the daily-fantasy startup AlphaDraft, which debuted earlier this year to provide a FanDuel-like experience for multiplayer online arena battlers and shooters. We’ve heard rumors of this acquisition for a few weeks — although AlphaDraft was also hearing offers from Yahoo Fantasy and even DraftKings.

Fantasy sports is a multibillion-dollar business, and daily fantasy is pushing that revenue to record highs. At the same time, the popularity of pro gaming is on the rise — and so are its earnings. FanDuel and DraftKings obviously both see this as an opportunity to get in on the ground level of what could turn into a mammoth industry over the next decade.

Former NBA Commish David Stern tells me that FanDuel has acquired @AlphaDraft, which he is invested in

— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) September 24, 2015

As we pointed out in our story yesterday about DraftKings’ esports ambitions, this acquisition by FanDuel is likely a move to ensure its revenues have a market that it can grow into.

From VentureBeat

Gaming is in its golden age, and big and small players alike are maneuvering like kings and queens in A Game of Thrones. Register now for our GamesBeat 2015 event, Oct. 12-Oct.13, where we’ll explore strategies in the new world of gaming.

Traditional sports are massively popular right now — professional football in particular has probably never had the level of engagement that it has today. But concerns around the safety of contact sports, along with a generation of parents who are trying to grind their children into superstar with the 10,000-hour rule, has youth participation in sports like football, soccer, and basketball noticeably falling off.

If research keeps revealing that football and other physical activities will lead to brain disease, interest in these sports could erode with the participation levels over the next 10 to 20 years. And that’s where the rise of esports could make up the difference.

Tens of millions of people have tuned in to watch events like the finals for Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and League of Legends. Every competitive-gaming genre is seeing year-over-year growth in terms of viewership. Marketers and sponsors have already taken notice, and that has the esports business on a trajectory to reach more than $ 465 million in revenue by 2017. But fantasy esports could have the potential to push this market to $ 1 billion and well beyond.

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