EU sets duties on certain steel imports, tariff price controversial

Steelworkers protesting in Brussels against dumping. [James Crisp/Flickr]

The European Union has decided to set duties on hot-rolled steel from Brazil, Iran, Russia and Ukraine after a complaint by EU manufacturers that the product used for construction and machinery was being sold at excessively low prices.

The EU will levy anti-dumping tariffs of between €17.6 and €96.5 euros per tonne as of Saturday (7 October), its official journal said.

The European Commission had initially proposed setting a minimum price – of €472.27 per tonne – but revised its proposal after failing to secure backing from EU member states.

European steel association Eurofer, which brought the complaint, said it was happy the minimum price proposal had been dropped, but expressed disappointment that the Commission had opted for fixed-price rather than normal percentage tariffs.

Given the current price of steel, the fixed-price amounts were lower than the equivalent percentage tariffs the Commission had set out in its reasoning.

“This outcome is not in line with normal EU anti-dumping procedures and the objective to tackle unfair imports,” said Axel Eggert, Eurofer’s director general.

He also said it was not right that the Commission had ended its investigation into Serbian steel imports without proposing measures. The country, he said, was home to a large state-owned, state-run Chinese steel producer.

Chinese hot-rolled steel is already subject to duties.

EU imposes import duties on some Chinese steel to counter subsidies

The European Union has imposed provisional import duties of as much as 28.5% on certain Chinese corrosion-resistant steels after an eight-month investigation found that the products benefited from unfair subsidies.

Among companies newly facing tariffs were the Brazil arms of ArcelorMittal and Aperam, both of which also produce in Europe, Companhia Siderugica Nacional, Usinas Siderugicas de Minas Gerais and Gerdau – at rates between €53.4 and €63.0 per tonne.

Iranian steel would be subject to a duty of €57.5 per tonne and Ukraine’s Metinvest Group €60.5.

Rates for Russian producers varied from €17.6 for Severstal, €53.3 for NLMK to €96.5 per tonne for MMK.

BCS investment bank said there would be no major impact on Russian steel companies, which had already redirected volumes from the European markets to other markets.

MMK said it would redirect part of its hot-rolled steel to Asian and other markets due to the imposed duties, with the Russian domestic market remaining its priority.

Severstal said it would continue to ship to Europe because of its low tariff rate, giving it a competitive advantage over other suppliers.

NLMK said it expected its European plants, including La Louviere which produces hot-rolled steel in Belgium, to benefit.

Commission exploring how to protect EU steel market from China

It doesn’t look good for Beijing. Brussels and Washington still refuse to recognise China as a market economy and the Commission has proposed legislation that completely changes the rules for EU trade with third countries. EURACTIV Czech Republic partner Aktuálně.cz reports.