AFP - The EU launched new probes yesterday into imports of Chinese steel, warning it would not allow “unfair competition” to threaten Europe’s industry which is crumbling under a flood of cheap imports.
European steelmakers are reeling from a global glut and last week, Luxembourg-based world leader ArcelorMittal blamed China for a colossal $8 billion loss in 2015 while thousands of jobs are being cut.
“We cannot allow unfair competition from artificially cheap imports to threaten our industry. I am determined to use all means possible to ensure that our trading partners play by the rules,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said in a statement.
The statement said the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, had opened an investigation into imports of seamless pipes, heavy plates and hot-rolled flat steel from China.
The Commission separately imposed anti-dumping duties on cold-rolled flat steel imports from China and Russia.
It recalled that last month it had also imposed anti-dumping measures on steel bars used in the construction industry.
The latest step comes amid a growing stand-off between the EU and China, which are major trading partners but which have also had many trade disputes in the past. Malmstroem last month urged China to cut output.
“In the wake of a worrying trend, I urge you to take all appropriate measures to curb the steel overcapacity and other causes aggravating the situation,” Malmstroem wrote in a letter to Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng.
The letter also warned China that it faced new probes if nothing was done after its steel exports soared 50 percent in 2015, destabilising the global market and the EU in particular.
China accounts for half of global steel production but internal demand has slowed sharply along with the economy.
Beijing has announced plans to cut production by as much as 150 million tonnes over the next five years but this is far short of the 340 million tonnes that experts say the country is overproducing every year.