Give us the tools to combat unfair trade, says Brussels

(BRUSSELS) – The EU Commission called on Member States Wednesday to support its efforts to provide the EU with stronger and more robust defence instruments against unfair trade.

The EU’s available toolbox of trade defence instruments has proven insufficient to deal with the huge over-capacities that result in dumped exports on the EU market, says the Commission.

EC vice-president Jyrki Katainen said: “Trade policy is one of the biggest assets of the EU to provide jobs, growth, and investment. 30 million jobs are directly related to our exports. This has increased by two thirds during the past 15 years. We have impressive results from the recent trade deals: The Korean deal has brought in five years a 55% increase in EU exports, increasing their value by EUR 15 billion. This has brought more than 200 000 jobs to the EU. Our prosperity and welfare depend on trade. Free trade must be fair, and only fair trade can be free.”

The EU accounts for 15% of world imports (second only to the United States), but EU trade defence measures correspond to only 7.8% of those in place worldwide and affect a mere 0.21% of the imports.

When it comes to implementing measures to defend jobs on its territory, no trading bloc exercises a similar level of self-restraint, says the Commission, and this is due to the limitations imposed by the current legislation.

The EU executive is looking to revive a proposal which was tabled in 2013. This, they say, provides the necessary modernisation of trade defence instruments.

Current EU legislation caps the levels of anti-dumping duties, hampering the Commission’s efforts to address the challenges facing industries – such as the steel sector – which are suffering as a result of huge increases in import volume of dumped products.

In practical terms, this means that on comparable dumped products originating from China, like certain cold rolled flat steel products, the average EU anti-dumping duty was 21,1%, while in the US, where the LDR is not applied, the average anti-dumping duty was 265,8%.

The adoption of the changes would allow the EU to impose higher anti-dumping duties in some instances, for example where there are massive production overcapacities in exporting countries. Furthermore the new envisaged anti-dumping methodology would allow the EU to capture market distortions linked to state intervention in third countries that mask the true extent of dumping practices.

In a dedicated Communication entitled ‘Towards a robust trade policy for the EU in the interest of jobs and growth’, the Commission also outlined how a new anti-dumping methodology which the Commission intends to propose would be used to address situations where market conditions do not prevail, while dealing with forthcoming changes to the legal framework of the World Trade Organisation.

Communication: “Towards a robust trade policy for the EU in the interest of jobs and growth”

EU Trade Defence

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