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Thousands to protest in Brussels against China steel trading

Staff writer |
Employers and employees from the entire European steel industry will be attending a march in Brussels to protest against Chinese dumping on the EU market and the granting of Market Economy Status (MES) for China.

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Over 5000 people are expected to attend this march, with several thousand expected to come from the steel sector. The European Steel Association’s (EUROFER) announcement that its members would be attending came on the day of the release of a European Industrial Manifesto by industry alliance AEGIS Europe.

“We will have colleagues from the steel industry come to Brussels from over 15 EU member states”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER.

“They will be joining thousands of employees, employers and Trade Union representatives from the heights of European industry.”

The march is being organised – with EUROFER support – under the umbrella of AEGIS Europe, which is an alliance of 30 European industrial sectors including steel, aluminium, ceramics, glass, solar panels and bicycle manufacturing, among others.

“The march and accompanying manifesto strike at the heart of the challenges facing the European steel industry. We are staunch advocates for free and fair trade. Dumped steel imports from China, volumes of which have doubled in 18 months, are flooding the EU market and directly causing irreversible closures and job losses across the EU steel sector”, said Mr Eggert.

Eggert continued, “China has domestic steel overcapacity of around 400 million tonnes, almost three times the total EU steel demand of 155 million tonnes. This overcapacity has arisen as a result of persistent state intervention in the Chinese economy”.

“China is quite simply not a market economy. It does not yet meet 4 out of the 5 EU criteria to be considered as such. To prematurely grant MES when China meets neither the EU criteria nor its WTO obligations would be economic and political folly.”

The European Steel Association (EUROFER) welcomes the measures on Cold-Rolled Flat (CRF) products but criticises extremely low level of duties on Chinese steel imports.

The Commission found dumping margins of 19.8% to 26.2% for CRF steel imports from Russia and 52.7% to 59.1% from China. While the provisional duties for Russia reflect the full dumping margin for that country, the duties for China are set at a level of only between 13.8% and 16%.

“The extremely low level of import duties for China may not stop the flood of Chinese CRF imports. This is a result of the lesser-duty rule applied by the EU. There is almost no other country in the world that gives such a favour to unfair imports.

“The US would most likely apply a duty at the full range of 59% more in a similar case. The EU must therefore urgently remove the lesser-duty rule to effectively address the Chinese steel trade distortion as the root cause of the EU steel crises.

“Member states can do this swiftly as a relevant Commission proposal is on the table”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER.

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