European Commission summarises 2014-2018 steel trade actions

The current European Commission (EC), headed since 2014 by Jean-Claude Juncker, has summarised its trade actions related to the steel sector, in a report seen by Kallanish.

The Commission adopted 25 steel-related trade measures during the 2014-2018 period (out of the 35 total measures approved during the period). It also confirmed the imposition of safeguard measures for steel at the beginning of 2019.

“The report shows that the Commission’s efficient, firm and balanced approach permitted the protection of EU jobs. It also sent a strong response to increasingly protectionist stances by some trading partners, while in parallel reforming its own TDI system to work even more effectively in the future,” the Commission says.

According to the document, the EC’s response came as an effect of the severe losses suffered by the European steel industry during the 2013-2016 period, due to the “… trade spillovers of Chinese overcapacity.”

While acting firmly, the Commission has nevertheless aimed at maintaining a level playing field for global trade, it adds. “Duty levels applied by the EU were lower than those imposed by other trade partners. For instance, duties on steel currently range on average from 29% to 45%, while the corresponding duty averages applied by the United States is 54–87%,” the EC says in the report.

In addition to the physical trade measures adopted, the Commission has also worked to increase surveillance mechanisms as well as to accelerate the time it takes for investigations.

“Steel imports of products covered by measures adopted in the years 2014 – 2017 decreased by more than -95% on average when compared to the volume of imports before the measures were imposed. Imports were no longer competitive once the unfair element of these imports was neutralised by TDI measures,” the Commission adds. “In critical steel products, where the EU user industry depends on imports, such as hot rolled coils, the dumped or subsidised imports were replaced by imports from other sources, for which there was no evidence of unfair pricing at the time. By neutralising dumped or subsidised imports, the TDI measures restored a level playing field, not just for the EU producing industry, but also for other third country suppliers, thus allowing EU users to continue enjoying diversified sources of supply.”