EU to take Chinese steel dispute to WTO: Commission

EU to take Chinese steel dispute to WTO: Commission

EU to take Chinese steel dispute to WTO: Commission

The European Union plans to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Chinese duties on steel tubes used in power plants. REUTERS photo

The European Union will lay a complaint against China at the World Trade Organization over Chinese tariffs on imported stainless steel pipes, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani said yesterday.

Tajani, who is also EU Industry Commissioner, told French radio station Europe 1: “The European Commission is going to lay a complaint before the World Trade Organization concerning China”, without specifying when.

A European source in Geneva, home of the 159-nation WTO, had said on condition of anonymity on June 12 that a complaint was due to be filed by the end of the week.

China and the EU are already locking horns over a range of trade issues, with Brussels having slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels.

In response, China has opened a probe into European wine imports, and is expected to take similar action against the auto sector.

Repeated claims by both sides of “dumping” -- selling goods at a cut price to grab market share -- have placed intense pressure on their huge trade relationship.

Part of a broader EU plan to revive steel industry

At the WTO, nations can ask the global body to decide whether fellow members are in breach of the rules of international commerce, and can be granted the right to impose retaliatory measures.

The EU is spotlighting Chinese tariffs on European stainless steel tube.

Japan has filed a similar steel case against China at the WTO, which in May set up a dispute settlement panel at Tokyo’s behest.

In the past, the WTO has often folded multiple trade lawsuits against a specific member’s measures into a single case.

The WTO’s dispute settlement process can last for years due to the complexity of cases and the length of the various appeals.

The Commission announced an array of recommendations on June 11 to revive Europe’s steel industry, hurt by tumbling demand and plant closures.

The “EU steel action plan” is the first comprehensive attempt by the Commission to stem a decline in the steel sector since the Davignon Plan sought to tackle an industry slump in the mid-1970s.

The plan, presented by Tajani as well, aims to cut red tape, boost apprenticeship schemes and innovation, create a level international playing field and study ways to lessen the burden of energy costs, which account for about 40 percent of steelmakers’ operating expenses.

It says existing EU funds should be used to ease the social cost of restructuring, which has caused the loss of 40,000 jobs in recent years, including the planned closure of most facilities at ArcelorMittal in Liege, Belgium.