China, Russia steel hit with EU anti-dumping duties

British steel workers have complained their jobs are at risk from Chinese 'dumping'. [BillJacobus/Flickr]

Brussels announced on Thursday (4 August) that it would levy retroactive anti-dumping duties on imports of cold rolled steel products from China and Russia.

The move comes after a year-long investigation triggered by a claim from steel federation group Eurofer.

“In the wake of the global steel overcapacity crisis, the Commission is applying the trade defense instruments to re-establish a level-playing field between EU and foreign producers,” a statement read.

The duties range from 18.7% to 36.1% for Russian companies and between 19.7% and 22.1% on Chinese firms Angang Group and Shougang Group.

China reacts

The duties would weaken the European Union’s downstream manufacturing competitiveness, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement on its website.

The ministry said it “regrets” the European Commission’s decision to put anti-dumping duties on Chinese cold-rolled steel plates.

“This move amplifies legal uncertainty and gravely affects normal international trade,” the ministry said.

The Chinese ministry called on the EU to “avoid abusing trade remedies and sending a wrong signal” to the world, and added that it was willing to work with the EU to appropriately handle current problems facing the steel industry.

China is by far the world’s biggest steel producer and its annual output is almost double that of the 28-nation EU. The Chinese steel industry, a major employer, has struggled to meet targets to reduce its overcapacity, and rising prices for steel have encouraged firms to ramp up production for export.

Rival producers have accused China of selling into export markets at below cost after a slowdown in demand at home, forcing job cuts and plant closures elsewhere amid a deepening global crisis in the industry.

Saving European steel

Policymakers are struggling to find the way forward to preserve a future for the European steel industry, once a bedrock of the bloc’s industrial economy, which is currently facing the most serious crisis in its history.

At an EU-China summit in Beijing last month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned the EU would use all means to protect itself from a flood of Chinese steel imports. But Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the problem was not “triggered by any one country”.

Over the past months, Brussels has struggled to find a response to properly protect the European steel industry.

Brussels urges member states to regulate Chinese steel imports

The European Commission announced plans on Wednesday (16 March) to speed up trade defence cases against cheap imports from China and urged EU member states to stop blocking measures that could set higher duties against dumped and subsidised products.

In July, the EU compromised on the long-standing issue of the China’s Market Economy Status and said it would ditch the debate on whether or not China’s economy is market driven, but will instead focus on new measures to tackle Chinese dumping and illegal subsidies.

EU dodges China 'market economy status' question

The EU said on Wednesday (20 July) it will no longer debate whether or not China’s economy is market driven, but will instead focus on new measures to tackle Chinese dumping and illegal subsidies.

The EU currently has over 100 trade defence measures in place, 37 of them targeting unfair imports of steel products, 15 of which from China. 12 more investigations concerning steel products are still ongoing.

EU-China economic ties will withstand disputes over MES

Overall the economic ties between the EU and China are of such importance that they will withstand the disputes over ‘Market Economy Status’ (MES), writes Fraser Cameron.

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