European Commission proposes alterations to steel safeguard measures

2nd June 2020

Following the conclusion of the second review period, the European Commission has notified the World Trade Organisation of its proposed amendments to existing steel safeguard measures.

The Commission has identified two general adjustments to the way the system will be managed for all imports from July 1, 2020. The first change is to allocate country specific quota volumes on a quarterly, rather than annual, basis.

The second amendment places limits on the maximum amount of the residual global quota volume that can be used by countries with a specific quota, which are opened to all nations, in the final quarter. This is designed to protect smaller exporting countries from the crowding out seen in the period commencing April 1, 2020.

The Commission also proposed amendments to three key product categories – hot rolled coil, stainless hot rolled coil and large welded tubes.

Hot rolled coil, currently the only product with a standalone global quota, will be brought into line with all other products. This means that nations historically exporting more than five percent of the total HRC quota volume will be assigned a country specific quota, whereas smaller exporters will be placed into an ‘other countries’ category.

Conversely, the specific country quotas for stainless hot rolled coil will be replaced by a global quota. The Commission considers that the application of country specific quotas could affect some nations’ ability to export to the European Union at their historical levels. This is due to the antidumping measures, applied on imports in this product category, originating from China, Indonesia and Taiwan, which entered effect on April 8, 2020.

The allocation for large welded tubes will also be altered. This will be split into two subcategories. Material typically used in major engineering projects will be managed with a single global quota. Country specific quotas will be applied to all other large welded tubes.

The Commission also confirms that it plans to increase the annual quota volumes for all products by three percent from July 1, 2020. This comes despite calls from industry trade body, Eurofer, for the Commission to reduce quota volumes by seventy-five percent, considering the disruption caused by Covid-19.

In addition to these changes, the notification provides an updated list of developing WTO nations excluded from the measures based on the latest import volumes. Once approved by the European Parliament, the measures are expected to remain in place until June 30, 2021.

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