China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday it “regrets” the European Commission’s decision to put anti-dumping duties on Chinese cold-rolled steel plates, the latest spat between the trade partners battling a global steel glut. China’s steel industry, a major employer, has struggled to meet targets to reduce its overcapacity, and rising prices for steel have encouraged firms to ramp up production for export.
Rival producers have accused China of selling into export markets at below cost after a slowdown in demand at home, forcing job cuts and plant closures elsewhere amid a deepening global crisis in the industry. The European Commission said on Thursday that it would levy retroactive anti-dumping duties on imports of certain cold rolled steel products from China and Russia after a year-long investigation triggered by a claim from European steel lobbying group Eurofer.
“In the wake of the global steel overcapacity crisis, the Commission is applying the trade defence instruments to re-establish a level-playing field between EU and foreign producers,” its said in an emailed statement. The duties of between 19.7 percent and 22.1 percent on Chinese firms Angang Group and Shougang Group would weaken the European Union’s downstream manufacturing competitiveness, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement on its website.
“This move amplifies legal uncertainty and gravely affects normal international trade,” the ministry said. It called on the EU to “avoid abusing trade remedies and sending a wrong signal” to the world, and added that it was willing to work with the EU to appropriately handle current problems facing the steel industry. China is by far the world’s biggest steel producer and its annual output is almost double that of the 28-nation EU.
Britain, which has voted to leave the European Union but remains in it until its exit has been negotiated, issued an emailed statement welcoming the duties and saying it would do all it can to protect its steel industry. “It’s very positive to see these tariffs being imposed to stop unfair steel dumping,” a spokesman for Britain’s Business Department said, “The Prime Minister has been clear that we will do everything we can to look after workers in the steel industry.”
The EU duties on cold-rolled steel, used in the construction and the automotive industries, will last for five years and be applied to products registered two months before they were initially adopted on Feb. 12, the commission said.