European traders join forces to protest against EU extension of safeguard measures

Independent traders in Europe have joined forces to oppose the extenstion of safeguard measures against 26 steel product categories, sources told Fastmarkets on Tuesday, March 16.

A consortium of 33 mostly medium and small businesses connected to the steel trade and steel processing have teamed up to form ‘Companies Against Import Restrictions’ (Cair) to fight against protectionism in the European steel market.

Cair unites steel importers and users “who oppose the safeguard measures on imports of non-alloy wire (product category 28),” according to one Cair member.

“In the ongoing review of the safeguard measures, we ask the [European] Commisision to remove these measures as soon as possible… to restore a normal business environment and [to ensure] a return to fair competition,” he said.

The EC recently started looking into the possible extension of the measures against 26 steel product categories, sparking fears among European buyers that safeguard measures, which are due to expire on June 30 this year, will be extended

EU steel market participants said that steel import volumes were already at “historical lows” and, therefore, an extension of safeguard measures made no sense.

Steel wire rod imports to the EU have been on a downward track since 2018, despite a structural shortage of the product in the European market, sources added.

In 2020, wire rod imports to the EU amounted to 1,858,840 tonnes, down from 1,983,651 tonnes in 2019 and from 2,686,621 tonnes in 2018.

And the shortage of wire rod was one of the key factors that pushed it to recent historically high prices, sources told Fastmarkets.

In February 2021, Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel wire rod (mesh-quality), domestic, delivered Northern Europe averaged €673.75 ($803.95) per tonne, up from €671.88 per tonne in January and its highest level since September 2008 Steel wire rod prices in the region had been risen steadily on monthly basis since August 2020.

“We need to diversify our supply sources to get wire rod at competitive prices to ensure uninterrupted industrial activities,” a European buyer said.