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“The ‘protectionist’ era against general types of hot rolled coil [HRC] and cold rolled coil [CRC] is clearly over, while new [anti-dumping] proceedings against specific, more narrowly defined products are now very likely,” said Yuriy Rudyuk, partner at Brussels law firm Van Bael & Bellis, on Thursday November 13.
These niche products include more expensive steel meant for direct consumption by end users, which would circumvent European steel processors, he added.
Anti-dumping investigations initiated by the European Union (EU) have fallen in recent years from a peak of eleven cases in 2012 to two cases in 2014 – against cold rolled flat stainless steel from China and Taiwan, and against grain-oriented flat rolled electrical steel products from Japan, South Korea, China, Russia and the USA.
Anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese steel products are also a growing trend, Rudyuk said.
Challenges to anti-dumping investigations in the EU include differences in opinion between various steel associations and the time-consuming formalities and extensive documentation required before even lodging an investigation request.
Yet the EU does not want to be seen as a restrictive customs union and voices, particularly in Nordic countries, are speaking up for freer trade, which is already happening with Ukraine and Turkey.
On Russia, EU measures in steel trade are unlikely to change, according to Rudyuk.
“From a legal point of view, Russian steel exports to the EU have not been affected by sanctions,” he said, “but it has become more difficult to export certain steel products from the EU to Russia that are subject to licensing requirements, such as seamless tubes for Arctic drilling”.
European anti-dumping investigations are likely to move from general to niche steel products in the coming years, delegates heard at Eurometal’s International Steel Trade Day in Frankfurt.