30 April 2019
Notice Published on the Potential Combined Effects of EU Trade Defence Measures on Certain Steel Products
On 26 April 2019, the European Commission published a notice concerning trade defence measures in the EU’s Official Journal. The notice concerns the potential combined effects of anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures with the existing safeguard measures on certain steel products. There are several steel products of Chinese-origin that are mentioned in the annex to the notice, and the import of which, in consequence, may be burdened by the combined effects of these measures. The notice invites interested parties, including exporting producers, importers and users, to provide comments with a view to alleviating any greater effect than desirable on the imports concerned.
Hong Kong and Chinese mainland traders may recall that, by Regulation 2019/159 published on 1 February 2019, the Commission imposed safeguard measures with respect to certain steel products for a period of three years. The safeguard measures take the form of tariff-rate quotas applicable for specified periods, in excess of which a safeguard duty of 25% must be paid.
Anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures are currently also in place for some of these steel product categories. The list of all the regulations imposing those measures currently in force is provided in the annex to the notice. Many of the measures concern imports from the Chinese mainland. For all the listed product categories, once the tariff-rate quotas established under the safeguard measures are exhausted, both the safeguard duty and the anti-dumping or countervailing duty would become payable on the same imports.
In 2015, the EU had adopted Regulation 2015/477 on measures that the EU may take in relation to the combined effect of anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures with safeguard measures. In that Regulation, it is acknowledged that the combination of anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures and safeguard measures on the same product could have an effect greater than that intended in terms of the EU’s trade defence policy and objectives, and could place an undesirably onerous burden on certain exporting producers seeking to export to the EU. As a result, specific provisions were introduced in order to enable the Commission, where appropriate, to take action to ensure that a combination of anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures with safeguard measures on the same product does not have such an effect.
As concerns the measures imposed by Regulation 2019/159 (i.e., safeguard measures with respect to certain steel products), whilst there is some uncertainty as to if and when the respective tariff-rate quotas would be exhausted, it is possible that imports of those steel product categories which are subject to anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures would also become subject to the payment of a safeguard duty.
There are grounds to conclude, according to the Commission, that the combination of these measures could indeed have an effect greater than that intended or desirable in terms of the EU’s trade defence policy and objectives. The Commission, therefore, considers that it may be appropriate to amend the existing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures mentioned in the annex to the notice, during the relevant period where anti-dumping/anti-subsidy measures and safeguard duties may apply.
In order to ensure legal certainty for the economic operators concerned, the Commission considers it necessary to specify, for these cases, the anti-dumping or the countervailing duty that should apply in the event that the safeguard tariff rate quotas are exhausted.
Above all, in cases where both an anti-dumping or a countervailing duty and a safeguard duty would normally be payable, and where the anti-dumping or countervailing duty is less than, or equal to, the amount of the safeguard duty, the Commission considers it appropriate that no anti-dumping or countervailing duty should be payable during the relevant period. Where the anti-dumping or countervailing duty is greater than the amount of the safeguard duty, the Commission considers it appropriate that only that part of the anti-dumping or countervailing duty which is in excess of the amount of the safeguard duty should be payable during the relevant period.
The notice invites the views of interested parties. It states that all interested parties, including exporting producers, importers and users of the products concerned and their associations, are invited to make known their views in writing on the above considerations, in a free format and by email, within 14 days of the date of publication of the notice.
When making their submissions, interested parties must indicate their name, address, telephone number, and a valid email address and should ensure that the provided email address is a functioning official business address which is checked on a daily basis. Once contact details are provided, the Commission will communicate with interested parties by email only, unless they explicitly request to receive all documents from the Commission by another means of communication, or unless the nature of the document to be sent requires the use of registered mail.
Hong Kong companies with exporting interests in mainland China are advised to carefully examine the annex to the notice, in order to see whether any products that may be relevant to them, and against which EU anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures are in force, are listed in the annex.