EU states at odds over steel tariffs against Russia, Brazil

8 September 2017

European Union governments rejected the bloc’s proposed measures to levy punitive tariffs on hot-rolled steel from Brazil, Iran, Russia and Ukraine on Thursday, with some member states considering the measures too lax, others too tough.

European steelmakers have accused the four countries of dumping the steel used in construction and machinery and the European Commission, which oversees trade policy in the 28-member European Union, had set out plans to levy tariffs of up to 33 percent.

It had also proposed that duties would not apply if the product was sold at or above a set minimum price of 472.27 euros ($568) per tonne.

European steelmakers federation Eurofer, which had lodged a complaint and wanted import duties, criticized the minimum price element of the proposal.

As a result EU countries, including those with steelmakers and those interested in cheap steel, opposed the overall plan, EU sources said. The former believed the measures were too weak, the latter considered them too strong.

The case will now pass to a so-called appeals committee, also comprising the 28 EU members. In such appeal cases, the Commission often revises its plans. The committee will meet on or after Sept. 25.

The Commission’s proposal would be then cleared unless a majority of states also representing a majority of the EU’s population vote against.

Chinese imports of hot-rolled steel into the EU are already subject to duties of up to 35.9 percent, with no minimum price.

The Commission has previously used the minimum price approach for imports of solar panels from China to settle one of the most contested trade disputes between Brussels and Beijing. However, that has not stopped arguments over what level that price should be.