China Steel-Pipe Makers May Face 5-Year EU-Tariff Renewal

The European Union may renew tariffs on steel pipes from China for another five years, highlighting worries in Europe about the Chinese threat to the EU’s manufacturing base.

The EU said it would examine whether to re-impose the duties as high as 39.2 percent on imports from China of seamless pipes and tubes, which are used in the construction, energy and engineering industries.

In 2009, seeking to protect European producers including ArcelorMittal and Vallourec SA, the EU imposed the levies to punish Chinese exporters such as Hengyang Valin Steel Tube Co. for allegedly having sold the pipes and tubes in Europe below cost, a practice known as dumping.

The review “will determine whether the expiry of the measures would be likely to lead to a continuation or recurrence of dumping,” the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, said today in the Official Journal. The anti-dumping duties were due to lapse Oct. 7 and will now stay in place during the probe, which can last as long as 15 months.

The case has highlighted the EU’s readiness to protect European manufacturers from Chinese competitors because, when it applied the five-year duties in 2009, the bloc cited the “threat of injury” to European producers as a result of cheaper imports. European anti-dumping duties usually aim to counter actual harm to EU industries rather than the possibility of it.

Market Share

Chinese exporters of seamless pipes and tubes increased their combined share of the EU market to 17.1 percent in the 12 months through June 2008 from 1 percent in 2005, the bloc said in 2009. Chinese exporters generated sales in the bloc of about 388 million euros ($490 million) in the 12 months to June 30, 2008, the EU said.

The inquiry into whether to renew the levies stems from a June 27 request by a European industry group on behalf of manufacturers that account for more than a quarter of the EU’s output of seamless pipes and tubes, the commission said today. It didn’t identify any companies.

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