The EU now has 37 trade defence measures in place on imports of steel products, while nine investigations are still ongoing
The European Commission today opened new anti-dumping investigations to determine whether imports of three steel products have been dumped on the EU market. If this is found to be the case, the Commission will take measures to protect the European industry from damaging effects of unfair trade.
All three steel products subject to these investigations – seamless pipes, heavy plates and hot-rolled flat steel – originate in China.
In addition to these three new investigations, in another ongoing case concerning a steel product, the Commission decided to impose as of today provisional anti-dumping duties on cold-rolled flat steel from China and Russia. This follows other provisional anti-dumping measures adopted recently, on so called ‘high fatigue performance rebars’ from China, imposed on 29 January.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “The steel sector currently faces a range of challenges. EU trade defence instruments cannot on their own solve all those problems, but the European Commission is acting and applying the instruments at its disposal to support and ensure a level-playing field.We cannot allow unfair competition from artificially cheap imports to threaten our industry. I am determined to use all means possible to ensure that our trading partners play by the rules. We have so far put in place trade defence measures for more than 30 different types of steel products, and we will continue to effectively address legitimate concerns of our industry.”
With today’s decisions, the EU now has 37 trade defence measures in place on imports of steel products, while nine investigations are still ongoing. In parallel, the Commission has also proposed to modernise and make more effective the use of Trade Defence Instruments, a proposal which is now being discussed between Member States. The Commission hopes that Member States will swiftly approve this proposal.
As regards the investigation launched on hot-rolled flat steel today, the Commission decided to take action on the basis of a “threat of injury”, rather than waiting for such injury to materialise. This is an early preventive action which is in itself an exceptional step in trade defence proceedings. The European Commission decided to activate this instrument since the complaint presented by the industry contained sufficient evidence to meet the legal demands.
The provisional duties on cold-rolled steel imposed today range between 13.8% and 16% for the Chinese companies and between 19.8% and 26.2% for the Russian ones. Thanks to an earlier registration of imports, the Commission also has the possibility to decide at a later stage to collect duties retroactively as of December 2015.
Concerning the three new investigations, the Commission will now collect information from Chinese exporters, European producers and importers, as well as industrial users to determine whether anti-dumping duties should be put in place in the coming months or not.
The relevant notices of initiation of these investigations will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 13 February 2016.
The European Union, like most major economies, operates a system of Trade Defence Instruments. These instruments – Anti-Dumping (AD), Anti-Subsidy (AS) and Safeguard measures – allow the EU to defend its producers against international distortions of competition in the form of dumped or subsidised imports and, in the case of safeguards, against dramatic shifts in trade flows in so far as these are harmful to the EU economy.
The use of these instruments is based on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and is a legitimate and necessary part of the multilateral trading system. By international comparison, the EU is a moderate user of TDI. The EU maintains high standards through a regular review of rules and, when necessary, by adapting TDI to evolutions in external and internal economic conditions and jurisprudence.
The aim of TDI is not to act against low priced imports as such, or to eliminate the genuine competitive advantages of some third countries, but to counter the artificial advantages which third countries may enjoy in international trade through state induced or privately organised distortions.
Dumping is normally the result of state interference in economic operations, or of protection or lack of competition in the exporting countries’ markets which allows local producers to charge artificially high prices in their home market and subsequently use the profits from such activities to “subsidise” exports at prices below real market costs.
An anti-dumping investigation is initialled once the complaint filed by the industry is approved – the Commission services have 45 days to reject or approve a complaint. The investigation is in two parts, within the nine months after having initialled, provisional measures are disclosed and within the six months thereafter the definitive measures. Over the whole investigation period (of maximum 15 months) the Commission services constantly interact with the stakeholders (the so-called ‘interested parties’) and perform on-spot verification visits.