Provisional EU steel safeguards in effect from Thursday

The European Commission on Wednesday announced provisional safeguard measures on 23 categories of imported steel products, in order to curb the diversion of steel into the EU as a result of US import tariffs implemented earlier this year.

The safeguard measures will come into effect on Thursday and can remain in place for a maximum of 200 days, the EC said in an official statement.

According to the EC note, they will take the form of a tariff rate quota. For each of the 23 categories, tariffs of 25% will only be imposed once imports exceed the average of imports over the last three years. The quota is allocated on a first-come, first- serve basis, and at this stage not allocated by individual country.

The measures will be imposed against all countries, with the exception of some developing nations with limited exports to the EU. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein also are exempted, given the close economic links between the EU and the European Economic Area. The exclusions are compatible with both the EU’s bilateral and multilateral Word Trade Organization obligations.

According to the EC statement, all interested parties will now have the opportunity to comment on the findings of the investigation so far, with the EC taking the comments into account in reaching its final conclusion by early 2019 at the latest. If all the conditions are met, definitive safeguard measures may be imposed.

“The US tariffs on steel products are causing trade diversion, which may result in serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers in this industry. We are left with no other choice than to introduce provisional safeguard measures to protect our domestic industry against a surge of imports. These measures nevertheless ensure that the EU market remains open, and will maintain traditional trade flows,” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said.

According to the statement, the EC received overwhelming support for the measures from the EU member states. The measures follow the initiation of an investigation on March 26 that covered 28 product categories.

Imports of 23 steel categories of steel were found to have increased in the last few years. The 25% tariff has been calculated by using a so-called partial-equilibrium economic model, which is a standard tool for trade policy analysis by investigating authorities, including the EC.

Annalisa Villa, PLATTS