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The case was opened on January 31 following a petition by the country’s largest hot rolled flat steel producers – Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI), G Steel, G J Steel and Sahaviriya Plate Mill – according to a document published by the World Trade Organization.

Imports of the investigated products had “increased significantly” in Thailand, by 62% in 2011 and by a further 146% in 2012, the WTO document showed.

“More recently, the volume of imports in the first nine months of 2013 had increased by 305% in comparison with the volume of imports in the same corresponding period in 2012,” WTO said, citing figures presented by the petitioners.

A preliminary assessment found that the increased imports have caused “serious injury” to the domestic industry in the form of a decrease in the share of the local market, sales, and level of employment, as well as financial losses.

The four petitioners account for 96.97% of the total production of the affected products in Thailand.

Products being investigated are “non-alloy hot rolled steel flat products in coils and not in coils”, with thicknesses of 0.9-50mm and widths of 600-3,048mm, according to the document.

A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or is threatening to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry. A WTO member may take a safeguard action, such as restricting the import of a product temporarily, only if it finds a case against such imports. Any safeguard measures undertaken are generally applied on a non-selective basis.

Indonesia recently started a safeguard investigation on imports of some hot rolled bars and rods.