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Steel Shipments to Europe Face Limits Prompted by Trump Tariff

Steel Shipments to Europe Face Limits Prompted by Trump Tariff
Issue Time:2018-07-09

The European Union is poised to cap its imports of steel in the latest evidence of the domino effect caused by U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionism.

The EU said it would impose curbs on foreign steel in mid-July to prevent the European market from being flooded by shipments diverted away from the U.S. as a result of its 25 percent steel tariff. Trump imposed the levy in March on national-security grounds, which the bloc and other countries dismiss.

The move marks a victory for the European steel industry, which has pressed for import restrictions to counter the risk of a slump in domestic prices, over EU carmakers, which as users of the metal have argued against trade barriers.

“The most recent import statistics show trade diversion of steel products into the EU as a result of the additional 25 percent tariff on steel imposed by the U.S.,” the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s executive arm, said in an emailed statement on Thursday in Brussels. The commission made the announcement after winning the support of EU governments for the import limits.

The planned curbs mark the preliminary outcome of a “safeguard” investigation that the commission opened in late March. The probe covers 28 types of steel ranging from stainless hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheets to rebars and railway material. Together, the products account for around 40 percent -- or 22 billion euros ($25.7 billion) -- of the EU’s annual iron and steel imports.

Tariff-Rate Quotas

The provisional trade limits will cover “historical” EU import volumes on some or all of these products from around the world and involve extra duties on any shipments in excess of those amounts, the commission said. Such arrangements are known as tariff-rate quotas.

“Additional duties will be levied only after a tariff-rate quota, based on the level of traditional imports, is reached,” the commission said. “This is intended to prevent the negative effects of trade diversion, but at the same time maintain traditional supply and effective competition on the EU market.”

The provisional restrictions must still be formally approved by the commission and will take effect after being published in the EU’s Official Journal around the middle of July. The safeguard investigation is due to continue until late December, with the possibility of a two- month prolongation.