EU considers emergency restrictions on steel imports

The EU is considering imposing emergency restrictions on imports of steel products.

The ban, using article 21 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), will possibly take place after the end of the current import safeguard quota that is currently being reviewed by the European Commission. The current safeguard period ends at the end of this second quarter.

The commission has also confirmed the impact of Covid-19 will now be in the scope of its safeguard review. This means a reduction in import quotas is almost certain, although not as much as the 75pc cut requested by European steel association Eurofer.

The commission has given interested parties until just 7 May to file comments on the inclusion of the coronavirus’ impact in its review.

Article 21 of GATT states that no Word Trade Organisation member will be prevented from “taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests”. The EU can take action provided it is necessary to protect an “essential security interest” and is taken in time of an “emergency”.

Emergency import restrictions brought on the impact Covid-19 could be the event needed by steel mills to stem the fall in prices, particularly of flat products.

By Colin Richardson