China Faces Possible EU Tariffs on Reinforcing Steel

The European Union threatened to impose tariffs on steel from China used to reinforce concrete, a step that would curb competition for EU producers including the Celsa and Riva groups.

The EU began an inquiry into whether Chinese exporters of high fatigue performance steel concrete reinforcement bars sold them in the 28-nation bloc below cost, a practice known as dumping. This kind of steel, also called HFP rebars, is known for its resilience and Chinese shipments to the EU go to the U.K. and Ireland.

The investigation will determine whether HFP rebars from China are “being dumped and whether the dumped imports have caused injury,” the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm in Brussels, said on Thursday in the Official Journal. The commission has nine months to decide whether to impose provisional anti-dumping duties for half a year and 15 months to decide whether to apply “definitive” levies for five years.

China-EU steel trade risks sparking renewed tensions seven years after European producers complained that Chinese competitors had dumped a range of goods in Europe, prompting a series of dumping inquiries.

In March this year, the commission imposed provisional anti-dumping duties as high as 25.2 percent on stainless steel cold-rolled flat products from China and Taiwan.

The probe announced Thursday stems from a March 17 complaint by European steel industry group Eurofer on behalf of producers that account for more than a quarter of the EU’s output of HFP rebars, according to the commission.

ArcelorMittal is another EU manufacturer of this kind of steel, according to Brussels-based Eurofer.

Eurofer hailed the new investigation, saying in a statement that a surge in EU imports of HFP rebars from China stems from excess capacity in the country.

“Appearing for the first time in the EU in 2013, in only two years Chinese HFP rebars took a fourth of the market facilitated by price opportunistic trading,” said Eurofer Director General Axel Eggert.

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