The European Union launched a public consultation on Wednesday (10 February) into whether to relax trade defences against China, as pressure mounts from the steel sector, which is fiercely opposed to a move that would make it harder to impose anti-dumping duties.
The online consultation with industry, member states and trading partners is due to run for 10 weeks, and sets the stage for the executive to make policy recommendations in July.
Europe’s steel industry is bleeding jobs, as prices have hit decade lows due to overcapacity, shrinking demand, and a flood of cheap imports, mostly from China.
Next week, the steel industry has organised a march in Brussels to protest against Chinese dumping on the EU market and the granting of Market Economy Status to China.
“We will have colleagues from the steel industry come to Brussels from over 15 EU member states,” said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER. “They will be joining thousands of employees, employers and Trade Union representatives from the heights of European industry.”
“The march and accompanying manifesto strike at the heart of the challenges facing the European steel industry. We are staunch advocates for free and fair trade. Dumped steel imports from China, volumes of which have doubled in 18 months, are flooding the EU market and directly causing irreversible closures and job losses across the EU steel sector”, said Mr Eggert.
On Monday (8 February), European industry employees, trade unions and employers launched a European Industrial Manifesto for Free and Fair Trade.
Milan Nitzschke, spokesperson for AEGIS Europe, an alliance of 30 European industrial sectors including steel, aluminium, ceramics, glass, solar panel, said, “European employees, trade unions and employers are united in their message to Brussels: China is not a market economy. The EU must not grant China MES. Chinese dumping destroys EU jobs and undermines free and fair trade. Europe cannot afford to put up to 3.5 million jobs and €228 billion in lost annual GDP at risk
The EU’s top trade official has warned China, whose exports to the EU have doubled in the past 18 months, that it will open three new anti-dumping investigations this month on steel imports from China.
“The European Commission is downplaying the massive damage MES would cause to European jobs and growth. It is hiding behind technicalities to please China,” Nitzschke pointed out.
“In keeping with the Juncker Commission’s own Better Regulation principles, the European Commission must conduct a full impact assessment of China MES, including a broad and public consultation,” he added. “Our Manifesto highlights the reasons why China’s MES should be rejected in 2016.”