The European Union slapped Chinese steel imports with new anti-dumping duties Thursday, heightening a growing conflict in which each side accuses the other of unfair trade practices.
The European Commission–the EU’s executive arm–introduced levies ranging from 18.1% to 35.9% for five years starting Friday on certain hot-rolled flat steel products from China. The definitive duties increased from provisional tariffs of 13.2% to 22.6% imposed in October.
China has previously criticized the EU’s broadening efforts to protect European steelmakers, calling on Brussels to treat Chinese companies “fairly” as the commission rolls out a record number of trade measures to defend the bloc’s steel industry. The EU’s moves come amid a global steel glut. Major producers, including China, are trying to sell their products at low prices, undercutting European firms.
“These measures will serve to shield the EU steel producers from the damaging effects of Chinese dumping,” a commission spokesman said.
Thursday’s measures follow tariffs on heavy steel plates from China in February and duties imposed in August against Chinese and Russian exports of cold-rolled steel products–used in packaging, automotive, and construction sectors. The latest move, expanding duties to hot-rolled flat steel, is poised to affect manufactured goods such as steel tubes used in construction, shipbuilding and energy pipelines.
Manufacturers from China are targeted by 18 of the EU’s 41 anti-dumping and antisubsidy measures on steel products that are already in place. In a sign of China-EU trade tensions, 23 of the commission’s 31 ongoing investigations, which could yield new tariffs, are aimed at Chinese exporters ranging from metals to coated-paper, footwear, solar panels and ceramic tiles.
An official at the Chinese mission to the EU couldn’t be reached for comment.
“The EU’s trade defense policy is not targeted towards any particular country, but rather aims to protect EU industry against unfair trading practices,” the commission spokesman said when asked about China’s criticism of the bloc’s anti-dumping decisions and its impact on Brussels-Beijing relations.
Europe’s steel lobby group Eurofer applauded the measures and called on the EU to “continue acting vigorously against the unfair dumping of steel products.”
While the new EU duties cover a new category of steel products from China, officials decided against levying interim tariffs on the same products from Brazil, Iran, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine amid a continuing investigation, the commission spokesman said.
The probe against the five countries will take at least six more months, he added.
Eurofer has warned that European steelmakers are also grappling with surging exports from South Korea, Turkey and India, in addition to the five countries currently under review.
“If the commission does not tackle excess production beyond China it unnecessarily exposes our sector even further,” said Charles de Lusignan, a Eurofer spokesman.
Last month, Chinese Commerce Ministry official Wang Hejun, who oversees trade remedies and investigations, expressed concern over what called EU protectionism, particularly in the steel industry.
As a weak recovery of the global economy saps demand, Mr. Wang said, “China is willing to strengthen communications and exchanges with the EU, hoping to properly solve the problems of the current steel industry.”
Source: Dow Jones
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