EU modernises trade defence system, steel to benefit

The EU Commission, Parliament and Council have agreed the reform of the trade defence system this week. Some vital changes to the existing rules have been made in order to speed up the process. This could potentially give way to higher anti-dumping duties, mainly for the steel sector, Kallanish learns from statements and sources.

According to the agreement, the investigation period for the imposition of provisional measures will be shortened from nine to seven months. In addition, for cases related to steel and other raw materials and energy, the so-called ‘lesser duty rule’ could be reduced, giving way to higher duties.

“The changes agreed to the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations will make the EU’s trade defence instruments more adapted to the challenges of the global economy. They’ll become more effective, transparent and easier to use for companies, and in some cases will enable the EU to impose higher duties on dumped products,” the European Commission comments.

The Commission also explains that “… the EU will adapt its lesser duty rule and may impose higher duties. This will apply to cases targeting imports of unfairly subsidised or dumped products from countries where raw materials and energy prices are distorted.”

Eurofer, the European steelmakers’ association welcomed the agreement, but noted nevertheless that the new system is not as ambitious as previously hoped. “On balance this agreement is welcome given that it will speed up the process and should, in principle, help deliver more effective anti-dumping duties,” Axel Eggert, director general at Eurofer says. “With the final approval of the new Non-standard Anti-Dumping Methodology (NADM) expected by the end of 2017 the EU will have moved some way towards having, at long last, an overall trade defence regime better suited to current global challenges.”

During recent years, the EU has targeted a number of steel-related imports to apply duties aimed at defending continental producers from unfair competition. Nevertheless the slowness of the decision process as well as the limitation of imposing high duties due to the existing lesser duty rule have been often criticised by European steelmakers.