Europe looks at three-year steel trade safeguard measures

The existing new European safeguard system for the import of steel products is expected to be confirmed for a period of three years. The provisional measures currently in place expire in February 2019, Kallanish learns from sources at the latest meeting of the Italian steel distributors’ association, Assofermet.

Euro MP Massimiliano Salini confirmed that the existing measures create some unwelcome effects on the European steel supply chain. He explained nevertheless that it remains the best solution to tackle the current global scenario of oversupply and increasing trade barriers.

“The European economy is not in a particularly strong position at the moment, therefore it is probably not in the position to tackle the global trade issues alone. The steel sector needs to be supported by the current safeguard measures,” he explains.

Distributors, service centres and buyers are starting to voice concerns over the existing system. In some sectors, such as wire rod, half of the existing tariffs-free quotas have already been used, creating some supply uncertainty for the next four months.

Leopoldo Rubinacci, of the Directorate General for Trade in the European Commission, explains that the negotiations are ongoing and a final decision is expected before the end of the year. He nevertheless says that the existing quotas are not creating too many problems in the directorate’s view. The measures have been designed to protect the market from possible negative effects of the trade war going on globally, not to directly control or limit free trade and markets.

Tommaso Sandrini, head of Assofermet’s steel group, notes nevertheless that he believes that safeguard measures are not needed, as trade is continuing in a stable manner. He adds that the provisional measures are relatively moderate, but that further barriers could create new problems in the future.