EU slaps anti-dumping duties on China, Taiwan steel

Steel wholesaler. Dogguan, China. [Cory Doctorow/Flickr]

The EU announced that it will impose anti-dumping duties for six months on some steel imports from China and Taiwan on Wednesday (25 March), as a new trade row erupted between Brussels and Beijing.

The tariffs will affect imports of flat-rolled stainless steel used to make products like washing machines, dishwashers, medical tools and automobiles.

The European Union and China have already clashed over the alleged dumping of products ranging from wine to solar panels to steel pipes.

Duties of around 25% for the targeted Chinese firms, including industrial giant Baosteel, and 10% for the Taiwan companies will take effect beginning today (26 March), according to an announcement in the Official Journal of the European Union.

“In the absence of measures, the dumped imports from the countries concerned will continue to force Union industry to sell at loss-making prices,” the journal said.

Chinese and Taiwanese companies that cooperated with the EU investigation are excluded from the duties.

Following the news, the share prices of European steelmakers surged on the continent’s stock markets, before slowing later.

The EU opened the investigation on June 26 last year after complaints from European competitors about the Chinese and Taiwanese firms.

Total imports from China and Taiwan rose by 70% between 2010 and the period of the investigation from mid-2014 and early 2015, while the market share increased by 63%, the European Commission said.

‘Lost market share’

The investigation found that the EU industry concerned suffered a production volume decline of five percent, which led to an eight percent drop in capacity utilisation.

Market share declined by five percent, employment dropped by 11%, and labour costs increased by eight percent while investment decreased by 17%, it said.

“It was clear that the strong increase of dumped imports led not only to deteriorating profitability but also to lost market share by the Union industry and drop in production, capacity utilisation, employment, investments and return on investments,” the Official Journal said.

The companies from China and Taiwan can submit complaints to the EU and request a hearing from the European Commission, the executive of the 28-country bloc.

In February, a WTO panel largely ruled against China in its row with the European Union and Japan over Chinese anti-dumping duties on imports of steel pipes.

In December, EU trade authorities opened an investigation into alleged price dumping by China on solar glass, a key component of solar panels.

A 2013 trade row over solar panels sparked the EU’s biggest-ever trade probe covering a market worth some 21 billion euros at its zenith.

But last July, Brussels and China came to a hard-won agreement, ending heated rounds of tit-for-tat measures that included a Chinese probe into European wine imports.

In 2008, the European Commission launched an investigation into imports of steel from China, South Korea and Taiwan, which European steelmakers have complained are being dumped on the market at below cost price, putting thousands of jobs at stake.

>> Read: Commission to probe cheap China steel imports

The EU executive has opened a series of inquiries into alleged dumping from China in a broad range of industrial sectors.

In 2012, it launched its largest investigation to date, into alleged dumping of, and subsidies for, an annual 21 billion euros of solar panels and components China exports to the EU.

It followed up the year after with an investigation into industry claims that Chinese solar glass producers are dumping their products in the European Union at below market value

>> Read: EU launches anti-dumping probe of Chinese solar glass

Beijing hit back immediately, by launching its own anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into European wine.

>> Read: EU-China solar trade spat escalates as Beijing hits back with wine probe

In 2013, EU states agreed to impose duties on imports of Chinese plates and other table and kitchenware.

>> Read: EU countries to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese ceramics

In the telecoms sector, the EU executive is also investigating alleged subsidies to Huawei and ZTE – emanating from export credits given by Chinese banks – which the EU executive believes offer the Chinese companies preferential terms for investing into foreign markets.

>> Read: EU holds off China telecoms trade probe amid US 'cyber-espionage' claims

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