European Commission extends steel safeguards investigation

The European Commission has extended the steel safeguard investigation period by up to two months, the EC said Wednesday.

The initial investigation period was to last nine months, starting from March 26 and ending in December.

The EC said that if definitive measures were to be adopted, it would publish the new regulations by February 1, 2019. Preliminary safeguards were published in July this year, in response to US Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.

“The size of the investigation, in terms of product scope as well as number of interested parties, is unprecedented,” the EC said. “The investigation, therefore, entails a heavy administrative burden on the Commission in order to deal with a significant number of representations made by the parties, as well as a complex legal and economic analysis of recent data.”

Safeguards announcements have been heavily anticipated by the European steel industry and a delay of the announcement means continued uncertainty, according to sources.

“This means the market is still kept in uncertainty, but for the flat buyers — as quotas are not even close — not filing [the regulation] is not a big problem. The real problem is for the long buyers, in particular for rod and rebars buyers,” a senior industry source told S&P Global Platts.

Through Tuesday, only 5.78% of the EU’s rebar quota was left to be filled and only 2.86% of the wire rod quota remained.

Laura Varriale and Annalisa Villa