which I attribute to dec backlash. I have the spring loaded upgrade, and I had the mount tuned at the factory recently, but I still see a 2000ms backlash, as measured by PhD2. The overall weight of my imaging system is about 46lb (including focuser, OAG, camera, reducer, USB hub, etc.). I feel their advertised 60lb is more like 45lb for imaging, unless you tweak and fiddle with all the knobs quite a bit.
Backlash can largely be adjusted out of both axes if one is willing to tinker. But that's disappointing to hear about the spring loaded worm: my impression is it was introduced for exactly rathijit's application and to make tinkering largely unnecessary.
Not that this is relevant to the OP, but I have my G11 loaded up with about fifty-seven pounds of scope and finder for visual. It's definitely at it's limit, but it operates well. Normally it's on my concrete pier in my observatory. If I mount it on the HD tripod it's a little shakier, but still satisfying to use (for visual). If I were doing photography, I'd use a different mount with my scope.
European mount wise, the least expensive mounts would probably be from Avalon, Fornax, Mesu and Gemini Telescope Design, but these will all be slightly above you budget. The Mesu and Gemini are not sold or serviced in the US so there is only limited information available to me on them. The Avalon mounts are excellent. You would probably be better off waiting to afford one of these mounts in the long run.
There is plenty of support for the Losmandy mounts available including on CN. More important, all parts are essentially available and easily replaced by the user. Even if one of the Chinese manufacturers offers parts, they tend to be limited and the mounts are no where near as easy to work on.
A friend in the astronomy club I belong to has a Mesu 200, but I don't know how he bought it. Direct from Mesu? He loves it (except for balancing it, since it doesn't have clutches).
Agreed: there is tons of support for Losmandy here and the parts (except for the worms and worm wheels/ gears) are off-the-shelf items. Losmandy prices aren't bad, but I'll bet equivalent parts could be found locally. I've not worked on nearly as many mounts as EFT, but I agree with him, the Losmandy offerings are among the easiest.
One thing to add to what Ed has said... I can disassemble the mount and put it back together relatively easily. And Losmandy sells individual parts, so if you are handy, you should have no issues identifying and replacing individual components instead of shipping the whole mount back to the US. Losmandy can ship you just the component that is broken for a fraction of the cost. Serviceability is high with Losmandy, but so is the need to tinker if you are pushing the mount to its limits.
Oh, if quotes from vendors for shipping a G11 are coming in at $400- $600, perhaps that opens up the used market again? DHL, or I'm sure there's a freight forwarding company out there if you can be patient for ocean freight... Another thing to consider if you have access to people who can weld: buy just the head and have a portable (or permanent) pier built locally. You could even have the counter weights made locally (I can provide dimensions if you like). That way you're only shipping the thirty-six pound head, counter weight bar and controller. Of course, that option is open for any mount you pick.
Back to I-Optron: I've never owned one of their mounts, but several of my friends have them and like them. I've also read consistently good things about the customer support, both via phone (likely expensive from Australia) and via e-mail. For the OP, it's too bad they don't make a CEM-75, perhaps then his search would be over.