15 March 2019
UK Launches New Trade Remedies System
On 6 March 2019, the UK announced the establishment of its new trade remedies system with the objective of protecting UK domestic businesses and industry against injury caused by unfair trading practices and unforeseen surges in imports. The new and now fully functioning trade remedies system of the UK has been launched so as to help to protect UK domestic businesses from injury caused by unfair trading practices – such as dumping and subsidies – or harm caused by unforeseen import surges starting from 29 March, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
The Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate (“TRID”) has been established as part of the Department for International Trade, with a schedule to commence its activities on 6 March 2019. The TRID will conduct the necessary preparatory works to ensure that the UK is ready to commence its trade remedy investigations as soon as Brexit occurs.
It should be noted that the TRID has been established as a temporary institution. The TRID will administer trade remedy functions until the Trade Remedies Authority (“TRA”) is legally established as an independent body. The establishment of the TRA is contingent upon the enacting of the Trade Bill in the UK Parliament.
The UK Government is setting as a priority the achievement of parliamentary support in order to achieve a “deal” scenario, under which UK businesses will continue to benefit from current EU trade remedy measures during the Implementation Period (a transition period of 21 months from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020). However, the establishment of the TRID as a temporary institution will aim to ensure that UK businesses will also be protected from unfair trading practices in the event Brexit occurs under a “no-deal” scenario.
Hong Kong traders will know that trade remedy measures allow countries to protect their domestic industry from injury caused by unfair trading practices, such as dumped or subsidised imports, or from harmful effects caused by unforeseen surges in imports.
From the UK Government’s side, TRID Director and TRA Chief Executive Designate Claire Bassett explained that the “Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate will be at the forefront of ensuring that the UK has the ability to protect UK industry and this is another step forward for us and our readiness to do this important work.”
Director General of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, said: that the announcement of 6 March, “launching the UK’s trade remedies system is a hugely positive announcement, ensuring the UK has the tools available to protect UK industry from unfair trading practices from day one of Brexit.” Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association explained that “trade remedies are absolutely critical to defend domestic chemical producers against unfairly priced or subsidised imports. Industry needs the Trade Remedies Investigation Directorate to be fully functional from day one after the UK leaves the EU. While our industry still hopes that a deal with the EU will be agreed, we must be ready for the circumstance of our leaving with no deal.”
The UK has announced that its system will be fully compliant with the relevant WTO agreements and will put in place robust protections where they are needed, in order to restore a fair playing field for domestic businesses where needed and without imposing unnecessary costs on supply chains or consumers.
The TRID will be responsible for investigating cases of unfair trading practices and unforeseen surges in imports that result in injury to UK businesses. It has further been announced that the majority of staff for this institution has now been appointed.
Previously, the UK Government had published the full list of EU trade remedy measures that will continue to apply once Brexit takes place and the UK takes control of its own trade policy. As previously reported, trade remedy measures have been maintained only in cases where UK businesses supported the measure, where the application is supported by UK businesses which produce a sufficient proportion of those products as required by the relevant WTO agreements, and where British businesses produce more than a 1% market share of those particular products sold in the UK (please see UK Preparing Independent System Ahead of Brexit, to Maintain Anti-dumping and Other Trade Remedy Measures for more background)