European Commission launches review of steel safeguard measures

The European Commission said Friday it has launched a second review of the current safeguard measures on steel imports into the EU.

The EC will look at the overall framework and also review the list of developing World Trade Organization countries currently excluded from the measures based on their historically low volumes. The EC will assess whether imports from a developing WTO member exceed the 3% of its share of overall imports of the product subject to measures, given that developing countries collectively account for not more than 9% of product imports.

The EC is asking for interested parties to submit comments. The review will be concluded no later than June 30.

The European steel association Eurofer welcomed the review in a statement.

“We believe that further refinements could improve upon the existing system and make it more robust and responsive to actual state of the EU steel market,” Eurofer said.

“There are a number of ways in which the mechanism could be updated, and Eurofer hopes that the Commission will consider all the tools at its disposal to arrive at a balanced result that ensures traditional trade flows and rates are respected and EU producers see the market stability they need to make steel sustainably in the EU,” the association added.

The safeguard measures have been in place since January 31, 2019 and underwent a first review in the summer of last year following which the EC introduced a 3% annual increase in tariff-free steel quotas across all product categories, a cut from the original 5% annual increase.

The Commission also announced a free trade agreement with Vietnam earlier this week, but this is not expected to have an impact on the EU steel industry as the existing safeguard quotas will not be affected by the agreement and remain in place for imports of steel from Vietnam.

— Laura Varriale