EU widens tariff threat on steel from China, Taiwan, Indonesia

BRUSSELS: The European Union ordered its customs officials to register flat-rolled stainless steel imports from China, Taiwan and Indonesia, widening the threat of tariffs on the shipments.

The step is part of an inquiry into whether Chinese, Taiwanese and Indonesian producers of hot-rolled, stainless-steel sheets and coils sold them in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping.

The move also covers a parallel EU probe of alleged trade-distorting subsidies to the manufacturers in China and Indonesia.

Registration allows the EU to impose possible tariffs on past transactions. Levies against below-cost imports are known as anti-dumping duties, while import taxes in response to subsidies are called countervailing duties.

The shipments from China, Taiwan and Indonesia 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 and/or countervailing 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.

Hot-rolled, stainless-steel sheets and coils are used for other kinds of steel and for tubes.

EU imports of the product from around the world were worth almost €900 million in 2018, according to European industry group Eurofer, which filed complaints last year that led to the commission’s dumping and subsidy investigations against China, Taiwan and Indonesia.

The commission must decide by Apr 12 whether to introduce provisional anti-dumping duties on imports of this steel from the three countries and by Oct 12 whether to impose “definitive” five-year levies.

In the subsidy case against China and Indonesia, the commission must decide by Jul 10 on any provisional duties and by mid-November on any definitive levies.