Further protectionism may weaken end-users, says Assofermet

Italian trade association Assofermet says it is “…firmly opposed” to any safeguard action in the steel sector by EU authorities because it would be “…unnecessary and even harmful to the union’s industry.”

“We recognize the excellent work done by the institutions in the negotiations that allowed the exclusion of EU countries from the provisions of Section 232,” the association says in a note sent to Kallanish. “We need to consider the risk of a protectionist escalation in case the EU reacts with measures similar to the United States.”

The anti-dumping measures to control steel import flows into the European market are already effective and no further protection is necessary, according to Assofermet. The possible adoption of further measures to protect the European market, in addition to what is already in place, would result in further price increases in the European domestic markets. This would hamper the competitiveness of all steel user sectors, the association claims. Furthermore, the recent recovery of the manufacturing sector would be undermined, the association continues.

A large part of the 32.7 million tonnes of steel imported in 2017 into the United States involves products that American end-users cannot buy domestically due to insufficient domestic production. This is the reason for Europe’s and other countries’ exemption from the provisions of 232. The US 232 probe shed light on possible opportunities for European steel producers as the North American market is characterized by a structural shortage of certain steel products, Assofermet concludes.