EU Widens Steel-Trade Protection With Russia, China Tariffs

  • Import duties imposed on Russian, Chinese non-stainless steels
  • Producers in Europe win provisional six-month levies

Russian and Chinese makers of non-stainless steels face European Union tariffs as high as 26.2 percent after the EU found that imports from the two countries unfairly undercut producers in Europe such as ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp AG.

The duties punish Russian and Chinese exporters of certain cold-rolled flat products of iron or non-alloy steel for allegedly selling the goods in the EU’s 4.5 billion-euro ($5.1 billion) market below cost, a practice known as dumping. The targeted producers of this kind of steel -- used in everything from washing machines and air-conditioning equipment to cars and power lines -- include Russia’s Novolipetsk Steel OJSC, Severstal PJSC and Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works OJSC; and China’s Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., Hebei Iron & Steel Co. and Angang Steel Co.

EU-based manufacturers suffered “material injury” as a result of dumped imports from Russia and China, the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, said on Friday in the Official Journal. The anti-dumping duties will take effect on Saturday, are for six months and may be prolonged for five years.

The EU is waging a campaign to ease import competition for a European steel industry struggling with sluggish domestic demand and Chinese overcapacity. While China is the main target with European anti-dumping protection already in force on Chinese goods ranging from stainless steel and reinforcing steel to wire rod and steel wires, the bloc has also hit Russia and other nations with duties on electrical steel.

EU Market

Russian and Chinese exporters expanded their combined share of the EU market for certain cold-rolled flat products of iron or non-alloy steel, excluding stainless steel, to 20.1 percent in the 12 months through March 2015 from 14.3 percent in 2011, the commission said on Friday. Russia’s share jumped to 9.8 percent from 5.9 percent over the period, according to the commission.

The anti-dumping duties are the preliminary outcome of an inquiry that the commission opened in May 2015. The probe stemmed from a dumping complaint by European steel industry group Eurofer on behalf of producers that account for more than a quarter of the EU’s output of the non-stainless steels targeted.

Russian exporters lashed out on Friday at the anti-dumping duties, saying the trade protection is unjustified. In e-mailed comments, Novolipetsk Steel and Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works said they ship cold-rolled steel to the EU at market prices, while Severstal said the measures violate World Trade Organization rules. Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works and Severstal threatened legal challenges should the EU turn the provisional measures into “definitive” duties, which usually last five years.

For its part, Brussels-based Eurofer criticized the level of duties against China, saying in an e-mailed statement that the rates are “extremely low” and may fail to stop the “flood” of EU imports from the country.

Provisional Levies

The provisional levies against Russia range from 19.8 percent to 26.2 percent and those against China range from 13.8 percent to 16 percent, depending on the company.

Among Russian exporters, Novolipetsk Steel faces the maximum rate, Severstal is subject to a 25.4 percent levy and Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works has a 19.8 percent duty. Among Chinese exporters, Baoshan Iron & Steel and Hebei Iron & Steel each face a 14.5 percent rate and Angang Steel is subject to a 13.8 percent duty.

In December, the commission ordered EU customs officials to register imports of Chinese and Russian non-stainless steels covered by the dumping probe. The step was meant to allow the bloc to impose duties retroactively from that time should the inquiry conclude levies were justified.

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