Member states support EC steel safeguards proposal: sources

Most EU member states support the steel safeguards review draft implementing act presented by the European Commission. There are 20 member states in favor, representing 92% of the EU population, an EC source told S&P Global Platts on June 12.

“The commission will consequently proceed to the formal adoption of the implementing act with a view to having it in force by July 1 at the latest. The act modifies the current safeguard measures in a number of areas concerning the management of the tariff quotas,” the source said. The safeguard committee met June 12.

“We expect the final decision to be published in the Official Journal of the EU during the week starting June 22,” said another source close to Brussels.

According to the first source, the EC draft implementing act has the same terms as the one the EC sent to the WTO on May 29.

As already reported by Platts, the EC proposal singled out hot-rolled coil and sheet, proposing a return of the country-specific quotas after a period of having a global quota in place. Those countries are Russia, Turkey, India, South Korea and Serbia. A cap of 30% share will nevertheless continue applying to the use of the residual quota in the fourth quarter to prevent crowding-out effects.

Other proposals move all country-specific quotas from annual to quarterly in order to ensure “a more stable flow of imports and minimize the risk of undue import surge during the remaining duration of the measures,” as stated in the notification document.

The EC also recommended some solutions to ensure that the smaller exporting countries, which use the global quotas, are not crowded out by those exporters enjoying country-specific quotas. In addition to keeping the unlimited access to the residual quotas in some product categories the EC proposes new restrictive regimes for certain products.

Assofermet, the Italian service center association representing one of the main European steel importing groups, said they are against the EC proposal because country-specific tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) do not reflect the actual level of imports and the residual TRQs are likely to remain largely unused.

Eurofer, the European steelmakers’ association, stated after the WTO notification was published that the EC proposal was insufficient and “unhelpful” in tackling the sharp decline in steel demand. Eurofer demanded a significant reduction in the size of the tariff-free import quota.

— Annalisa Villa, Wojtek Laskowski