Insight: In no-deal Brexit, trade remedies could be reviewed

ISTA, the UK international steel trade association, confirmed that in case of a no-deal Brexit it understands there will be no duties or no quotas on steel products unless the remedies are already in place, association chairman Brian Patterson told S&P Global Platts on Wednesday.

A day earlier he met with the UK trade officials seeking clarification following the guidance published by the UK government last week.

Remedies such as the safeguard quotas and anti-dumping measures that are now in place would be transitioned until such time that they can be reviewed, according to the UK’s specific needs and requirements by the UK’s new Trade Remedies Authority (TRA).

While the Trade Bill, formally establishing the TRA, completes all parliamentary stages and in the next few weeks receives Royal Assent, the work of the TRA is in fact being undertaken by the TRID (Trade Remedies Investigation Directorate).

In a no-Brexit deal scenario, the UK’s intention is to transition all these remedies already in place (safeguards quotas and antidumping measures) until they can be reviewed by the TRA, but the legal basis, under the WTO, for the transitioning is not clear to ISTA, which is seeking clarification.

Wider trade issues in play
After Brexit, it is unclear how the European Commission will treat quotas on steel introduced by the EC in response to the US 232 sanctions as the quotas were established on the basis of 28 members (including the UK) rather than 27. These safeguard quotas were put in place in February and have a further two years to run, subject to periodic reviews, the first being before July 1. The EC did not reply to Platts on this matter when contacted.

ISTA on this point said that, in co-operation with the association’s office, its new Dusseldorf Forum was well placed to deal with the EC for the benefit of all its UK and continental Europe members. ISTA Dusseldorf was set up one year ago and has around 20 members across continental Europe including traders, lawyers, stockholders and service centers.

“We have two centers outside UK: one in Germany and one in Singapore, both key international steel hubs, which, over and above the problems caused by Brexit, are facing an increasingly protectionist world in which consumer choice for quality and competitive steel offered by ISTA members is threatened by new trade barriers. Our immediate attention, however, is concentrated on issues relating to Brexit,” Paterson said.

In the case of a deal the situation is very clear instead as the status quo will stay the same with the UK carrying on with all the EC agreements on safeguards, quotas and anti-dumping measures.

If the EU grants the UK an extension for the deal scenario the situation will continue the same until the TRID makes its own regulations.

— Annalisa Villa