Czech steelmakers call for prolonged EU measures against imports

Czech industry association Steel Union has written to the minister of industry and trade, Karel Havlicek, to ask him to back continued EU measures against steel imports.

The letter, seen by S&P Global Platts June 4, said the Czech steel sector was still in a fragile state despite strong price increases in recent months.

Prolonging the measures are expected to have a positive effect on the Czech steel industry whereas steel imports into the EU are likely to flood in if the EU measures, adopted in 2018, are dropped, Steel Union said.

The reasons for adopting the original measures to protect EU steel producers were, if anything, even stronger now than they were then, it said.

The biggest reason is that the US is still imposing 25% duties on imports with Joe Biden’s administration showing no sign of changing that situation.

The European Commission was expected to decide in coming days whether to continue the measures against imports. These include quotas on imports from various countries based in exports to the EU between 2015 and 2017 plus 5% with 25% duties on imports beyond those levels. The quotes were increased by 3% in July 2020, the same level as the increase in the previous year.

Auto manufacturers

Some steel users, such as auto manufacturers, have called for the EU measures to be dropped.

The Steel Union letter, which was also supported by the biggest Czech union representing steelworkers, KOVO, said the annual increase in quotas reduced the impact on consumers and the threat of retaliatory measures against the EU.

Recent rises in the price of steel were not directly caused by the EU measures against imports, Steel Union said, but were primarily caused by strong demand from China, fiscal measures to encourage demand in most large global economies, and the fact that most steel stocks were severely run down in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic with not all production capacity fully returned to operation.

The Czech steel union counts the country’s biggest steelmakers, Liberty Steel Ostrava, Trinecke Zelezarny, and Vitkovice Steel, among its members.

— Chris Johnstone