EU to Register China Reinforcing Steel, Expanding Tax Threat

  • Registration allows EU to impose duties on past transactions
  • Commission renews duties on aluminum foil from China

The European Union ordered its customs officials to register imports of steel from China used to reinforce concrete, expanding the threat of tariffs on the shipments.

The step is part of an inquiry into whether Chinese producers of high fatigue performance steel concrete reinforcement bars sold them in the 28-nation bloc below cost, a practice known as dumping. Registration allows the EU to impose duties on past transactions. Levies against below-cost -- or “dumped” -- imports are known as anti-dumping duties.

The shipments from China will "be made subject to registration for the purpose of ensuring that, should the investigation result in findings leading to the imposition of anti-dumping duties, those duties can, if the necessary conditions are fulfilled, be levied retroactively on the registered imports,” the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm in Brussels, said on Friday in the Official Journal. Registration will start on Saturday and last into the second half of 2016.

The commission opened an inquiry on April 30 into whether Chinese makers of high fatigue performance steel concrete reinforcement bars -- also called HFP rebars and known for their resilience -- unfairly undercut European competitors including the Celsa and Riva groups through dumping. The commission must decide by end-January whether to introduce provisional anti-dumping duties and by end-July whether to impose “definitive” five-year levies.

Aluminum Foil

In a separate decision on Friday, the commission renewed anti-dumping duties on aluminum foil from China for another five years while letting a similar 17.6 percent levy against Brazil expire. The duties against China are as high as 30 percent and target exporters such as Shanghai-based Alcoa Aluminum Products Co.

In a third decision, the commission turned a provisional 12.2 percent duty introduced in July on aluminum foil from Russia into a definitive five-year levy. That duty targets United Co. Rusal, the only Russian producer of the aluminum foil covered by the trade protection.

Rusal criticized the commission decision and held out the possibility of a court challenge on the basis of World Trade Organization rules.

"The decision is unfair and based on unjustified conclusions,” Rusal said in an e-mailed statement from Moscow on Friday. "The company is considering its options, which may include contesting the decision in the EU courts and under the WTO disciplines."

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