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EU Mulls Extending Steel Safeguard Measures Amid Flood of Imports

Via Metal Miner

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, is due to examine a request to extend a 25% safeguard on a range of steel imports. Steel news reports that the EC received a request from 14 member states of the 27-member bloc on January 12. This request aimed to establish if an extension of the current safeguard measure and its prospective timeline would be necessary.

"The request contains sufficient evidence suggesting that the safeguard measure continues to be necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury and that Union producers are adjusting," the EC said in a February 16 bulletin. "In particular, the request contains information regarding the negative performance of certain key injury indicators and the existence of continuous significant import pressure from third countries."

The measures apply to imports of hot and cold rolled sheets and strips, electrical and coated sheets, stainless sheet, tinplate, plates, merchant bars, sections, carbon and stainless tubular products, wire rod, railway products, and sheet piling. The EC initially instituted the duties on February 1, 2019. Countries subject to the quota remained so for three years until June 30, 2021.

However, following a prolonged review investigation, the EC extended the safeguard measures for an additional three years. "If the measures were lifted, the union industry would face a flood of imports that would have a very negative impact on its economic performance," the EC warned. "Moreover, the request includes examples pertaining to adjustments undertaken by the Union producers. The Commission considered that the information provided, including the sources and supporting evidence, constitute sufficient basis to initiate an investigation."

Steel News: The CBAM and WTO Exemptions

Meanwhile, the EC stated that there is little sign that the U.S. plans to remove its Section 232 measures on steel imports. However, it is important to note that safeguards are not applicable if any products originate from a developing country member of the World Trade Organization exceed 3%. The EC also warned that this is conditional on whether developing country members of the WTO with less than a 3% import share collectively account for no more than 9% of total imports of the product concerned into the bloc.

Related: This Could Be A Gamechanger For Natural Gas In Europe

Steel news sources quoted the EC as saying that "the Commission will thus review whether imports from a developing WTO member exceeded the 3% threshold in the relevant period (namely, the year 2023) and, if needed, update the list of developing countries that are WTO Members and that should be included in, or excluded from, the scope of the measure."

Industry Insider Comments on Extension of Safeguard Measures

One market participant was unsurprised by the plans to extend the safeguard measures. "It's completely expected from the market as they have another two years max to keep the measure as a 'temporary' one, as it can be a maximum of eight years," that source told MetalMiner. "And it would run until June 30, 2026, while the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will start on January 1, 2026, covers any period without measures."

The CBAM stipulates a tariff on imports into the EU of carbon-intensive products, such as steel, cement, and some forms of electricity. The UK is also due to introduce its own CBAM starting in 2027.

By Christopher Rivituso

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