The Associated Press
BEIJING — China has criticized the European Union for imposing anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel imports and says Europe is damaging competition.
A Commerce Ministry statement accused the EU of engaging in trade protectionism. It said Chinese steel has just a 5 percent share of the European market, meaning it should have no effect on prices.
The EU announced anti-dumping duties Friday on two types of Chinese steel used in construction and production of ships and heavy equipment that it said were sold at improperly low prices.
China says EU duties on Chinese steel are unfair
China’s Commerce Ministry has expressed concern and regret after the European Union set provisional import duties on two types of Chinese steel coming into the bloc, calling its investigation methods “unfair”.
The duties announced on Friday are the latest in a line of trade defenses set up against Chinese steel imports over the past two years to counter what EU steel producers say is a flood of steel sold at a loss due to Chinese overcapacity.
Some 5,000 jobs have been axed in the British steel industry in the past year as it struggles to compete with cheap Chinese imports and high energy costs.
G20 governments recognized last month that steel overcapacity was a serious problem. China, the source of 50 percent of the world’s steel and the largest steel consumer, has said the problem is a global one.
The substitute country investigation method used by the EU, a practice typically reserved for countries deemed non-market economies, are “unfair and unreasonable” and “seriously damage the interests of Chinese enterprises,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement posted to its website late on Saturday.
“Reckless trade protectionism and mistaken methods that limit fair market competition are not the proper ways to develop the European Union steel industry,” it said.
Chinese steel products represent less than 5 percent of the European market and do not present a serious threat to European industry, the ministry said. The root cause of Europe’s steel problems was not trade but weak economic growth, it said.
“China hopes the EU will strictly respect relevant World Trade Organization rules and fully guarantee Chinese companies’ right to protest,” the ministry said.
The EU’s duties are set at between 13.2 and 22.6 percent for hot-rolled flat iron and steel products and at between 65.1 and 73.7 percent for heavy-plate steel.
As provisional duties they are in place for up to six months until the European Commission completes its investigation. If upheld, they would typically be set for five years.
The commission has committed to speed up its trade defense actions under pressure from EU producers.
The EU has also been debating whether to grant China “market economy status”, given the Chinese government’s hand in guiding industry and markets. China says the status is its right come December, which marks 15 years since it joined the WTO. Failure to do so could spark a trade war.
The commission has said that China is not a market economy and that it would not recognize it as such, but would adopt a new method to set duties that would abide by WTO rules.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Paul Tait)
BRUSSELS—The European Union on Friday imposed provisional tariffs on two Chinese steel products as the bloc strives to protect European steelmakers while they struggle with overcapacity.
The duties on hot-rolled flat steel and heavy plates of steel come as European manufacturers have raised numerous complaints alleging that their Chinese competitors are exporting some steel products to Europe at unfairly low prices.
Investigations into unfair trade practices by Chinese steel manufacturers and continue. Friday’s move stems from a complaint lodged in January by the European steel association Eurofer, on behalf of producers representing more than 90% of the total EU production of certain hot-rolled flat products of iron, non-alloy or other alloy steel.
“It’s positive that the commission has been able to implement these provisional measures faster than usual, after about eight months rather than the usual nine,” said Charles de Lusignan, communications manager at Eurofer. “It shows taking seriously the need to more quickly defend the industry against unfair dumping of steel,” he added.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said the investigations “confirmed that the Chinese products had been sold in Europe at heavily dumped prices.”
A spokeswoman for the Chinese mission to the EU couldn’t be reached for comment.
The provisional tariffs will range from 65.1% and 73.7% for heavy plates and 13.2% and 22.6% for hot-rolled steel, depending on the exporting company, and will last for six months. These could be extended to five years, pending the final outcome of the investigation.
The EU has 37 trade defense measures in place on imports of steel products—15 of which concern China directly. At the moment, 12 more investigations concerning steel products are still ongoing, two of which are being provisionally applied as of Friday.
The steel industry represents 1.3% of the EU’s gross domestic product and provided around 328,000 jobs in 2015, according to the commission.
Overcapacity in the steel sector has led to thousands of job losses in the European sector in the past year and has caused steel producers around the world to seek government protection from falling price.
Global leaders agreed over the summer that overproduction of steel is a global problem and endorsed setting up a global body to monitor the situation.
Write to Viktoria Dendrinou at email@example.com
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