EC starts safeguard investigation into 26 steel products

The European Commission (EC) launched a safeguard investigation on Monday March 26 into 26 steel product types in an attempt to prevent the redirection of steel in the global export markets from the United States to the EU market.

“[The investigation] concerns products of all origins, and its opening does not prejudge its results,” the EC said. “However, the procedure may result in the imposition of import tariffs or quotas that would shield EU producers from excessive imports, if this proves necessary.”

The trade case will in principle be concluded within nine months. Should provisional measures prove necessary, they can be adopted at short notice.

A surveillance system for imports of steel has been in place since March 2016, and has provided evidence that import volumes of steel products have been increasing.

The EC is concerned that this trend may become even stronger now that overseas steelmakers are likely to redirect their exports from the US to Europe, with access to the US market now limited due to that country’s imposition of import tariffs under Section 232.

Total EU import volumes of the 26 products involved in the safeguard case increased to 29.3 million tonnes in 2017 from 17.8 million tonnes in 2013, according to the EC.

“The increase in imports appears to be the result of unforeseen developments, such as the global overcapacity in steelmaking, and trade measures adopted by a series of countries in recent years in the context of that global overcapacity,” the EC said.

There is also sufficient evidence that the volumes and prices of these imports have caused, or are threatening to cause, significant overall impairment of the position of the EU steel industry.

In particular, the evidence shows that the market shares of EU producers have fallen as a result of imports of some categories of products, among other consequences.

In addition, import prices were lower than the domestic industry’s sales prices.

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