EU to single out Chinese imports in report on market distortions

A protester dressed in an outfit covered with Chinese signs hits with a steel hammer a shield wrapped in European union flag during an European steel workers protest against China's dumping price in Brussels, Belgium, 9 November 2016. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA]

China will be singled out for special attention under new trade rules to limit excessively cheap imports into the European Union, a European Commission official said yesterday (5 October).

The Commission, member states and EU lawmakers agreed on Tuesday to treat all World Trade Organization members the same in determining whether they are dumping products.

Under normal circumstances, dumping will mean selling below domestic prices, but the EU will make exceptions for cases of “significant market distortions”, allowing investigators to compare export prices with international benchmarks.

The Commission has said it would produce reports on major countries where it suspects such distortions prevail. For the time being, however, it will produce only one.

“China will come out first,” said a Commission official who requested not to be named.

“There is no clear plan to do other reports than for China.

“It is resource-intensive,” the official continued, adding that the absence of a report on a given country did not mean EU producers could not point to distortions there.

EU ambassador urges China to match anti-protectionism talk with reform

Europe hopes China’s upcoming Communist Party Congress will help to speed up the country’s market reforms, the European Union’s ambassador to China said, calling Chinese criticism of an EU plan to screen foreign investment “unreasonable”.

The official did not rule out reports on other countries in the future.

EU officials have regularly said that, despite the changes for anti-dumping cases, China is not a market economy.

Of 32 trade investigations the Commission is carrying out, 22 feature Chinese imports.

Better EU-China relations limited by persistent doubts on both sides, says report

The EU and China, the world’s second and third largest economies, should be looking to turn their trade relations into a genuine partnership but both are still wary of protectionism and unfair competition, according to a comprehensive report published on Wednesday (13 September).

The European Union and many of China’s other trading partners have debated whether to treat China as a “market economy”, which Beijing says was its right at the end of 2016, some 15 years after it joined the WTO.

The EU kicked off discussions early in 2016 and held public consultations, gathering over 5,000 opinions on how to handle trade complaints against China.

The Commission concluded it could not retain the current practice of considering China as a “non-market economy” and comparing Chinese export prices with those from another country, such as the United States.

But critics have said that Chinese businesses are subject to excessive state intervention with artificially low domestic prices, threatening to expose European markets to more dumping.

MEPs stick to their guns on EU anti-dumping reform, China

European Commission trade chief, Cecilia Malmström, will travel to Strasbourg on Tuesday (12 September) to seek an agreement with Parliament on new EU anti-dumping rules, but MEPs remain firm and refuse a ‘de facto’ recognition of Market Economy Status (MES) for China.

EU steelmakers association Eurofer, which has brought a series of trade complaints against Chinese imports, said the new EU agreement was important, but that it wanted to see how it worked in practice.

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.