EU reviews steel import safeguards, could terminate a year earlier than planned

The European Commission has initiated the review of safeguard measures concerning the import of 26 steel products to determine whether they should be terminated in mid-2023, a year earlier than planned, it said in a Dec. 2 report.

The EC imposed a definitive safeguard measure on certain steel products on Jan. 31, 2019, until July 16, 2021, with the measure then prolonged in June 2021 for a further three years from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2024, after 12 EU member states requested it examine whether the measures should be prolonged.

The measures consist of country-based tariff-rate quotas for the biggest steel supplying countries combined with global quarterly quotas for all other countries for each of the 26 products. Once a quota has been reached, a 25% duty applies.

The safeguard was imposed in 2019 as a direct response to the US government’s introduction of import tariffs on grounds of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act and replaced the previous provisional duties the EC introduced in July 2018, with the EC saying the Section 232 tariffs were causing a diversion of trade flows into the EU.

The new review will look at whether the safeguard measure should be terminated a year earlier than planned on June 30, 2023, using data from 2022 to update the last review that used 2021 data, it said.

The EC aims to conclude the review by June 30, 2023.

The review will include questionnaires sent to EU producers and end-users, to be filled in by Jan. 13, 2023, as well as written submissions from interested parties and the possibility of interested parties commenting on other parties’ submissions, without raising new issues.

The EC said it would not organize hearings for the investigation, unless there were exceptional circumstances, due to the short timeframe and the ability to comment on other parties’ submissions providing parties sufficient opportunities to defend their interests.

The 26 products include non-alloy, other alloy and stainless hot rolled sheets and strips, non-alloy, other alloy and stainless cold rolled sheets, as well as stainless CR strips, and electrical, metallic-coated and organic-coated sheets.

They also include tin mill products, non-alloy, other alloy and stainless quarto plates, non-alloy and other alloy merchant bars and light sections and wire rod, stainless bars and light sections, and wire rod and rebars.

Non-alloy and other alloy cold finished bars, non-alloy wire, seamless stainless tubes and pipes, other seamless and large-welded tubes and other welded pipes are also included, as are angles, shapes and sections of iron or non-alloy steel, sheet piling, railway material, gas pipes and hollow sections.

Domestic prices for HRC have been declining in Europe since the second half of March due to weak demand. Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, daily assessments for HRC in Northern Europe declined to Eur610/mt ex-works Ruhr on Dec. 1 and in Italy to Eur610/mt ex-works, down 33.8% and 27% respectively since the start of 2022.

— Jacqueline Holman