First-quarter safeguard quotas confirm Chinese return to Europe

Data on the utilisation rate of EU safeguard quotas for the first quarter indicate a sudden increase in Chinese-origin imports into the bloc, Kallanish notes.

According to data compiled by UK Steel, during the first four days of January, as new safeguard quotas became available, China fully exhausted six of its country-specific product allocations. These include tinplate (sub-group 6), electrical steel coils (3b), merchant bars and light sections (12), stainless bars and light sections (14), sheet pilings (18) and seamless tubes (24).

For electrical steel coils (3b), for example, a quantity equal to double the available duty-free quota of 29,000 tonnes has already been cleared by EU Customs.

According to steelmakers’ association Eurofer, in 2022 a new record level of finished steel products was imported into Europe, surpassing 31 million tonnes. In Q4, nevertheless, the utilisation of overall EU duty-free quotas was down 22 percentage points on Q3 and 26pp on Q4 2021.

Eurofer data also indicate that China supplied in 2022 its highest volume of finished steel products into Europe since 2017, reaching almost 3 million tonnes.

Emanuele Norsa Italy