Brussels, 20 July 2016 – The US has launched a trade enforcement action against China at the WTO concerning China’s export duties on several different raw materials. The EU intervened in this WTO challenge, a move that has been welcomed by the European Steel Association (EUROFER).
When China joined the WTO in 2001, the country agreed to get rid of export restraints on these raw materials. However, it has failed to meet its commitments in this regard.
In a statement, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said, “We cannot sit on our hands seeing our producers and consumers being hit by unfair trading practices. The past two WTO rulings on Chinese export restrictions have been crystal clear – these measures are against international trade rules. As we do not see China advancing to remove them all, we must take legal action.”
The Director General of EUROFER, Axel Eggert, said, “Chinese export duties and export quotas have had a massive distortionary impact on both US and EU manufacturers. These industry players rely on access to the strategic resources in order to compete globally.”
The raw materials concerned are antimony, cobalt, copper, chromium, graphite, indium, lead, magnesia, talcum, tantalum, and tin. Tin and cobalt in particular are important inputs in some steel production. China’s export duties provide an unfair competitive advantage to that country’s producers at the expense of free and fair international competition.
“It is incumbent upon US and EU policy makers to do what they legally can to prevent international competitors from taking advantage of the world trade system. The EU and US move is thus both welcome and significant”, added Mr Eggert.
“China’s lack of progress on its WTO commitments and its recalcitrance in implementing the necessary reforms is yet more evidence that the country has a long way to go until it can be granted Market Economy Status.”
About the European Steel Association (EUROFER)
EUROFER is located in Brussels and was founded in 1976. It represents the entirety of steel production in the European Union. EUROFER members are steel companies and national steel federations throughout the EU. The major steel companies and national steel federations in Switzerland and Turkey are associate members.
About the European steel industry
The European steel industry is a world leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. It has a turnover of around €170 billion and directly employs 320,000 highly-skilled people, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year. More than 500 steel production sites across 24 EU Member States provide direct and indirect employment to millions more European citizens. Closely integrated with Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries, steel is the backbone for development, growth and employment in Europe.
Steel is the most versatile industrial material in the world. The thousands of different grades and types of steel developed by the industry make the modern world possible. Steel is 100% recyclable and therefore is a fundamental part of the circular economy. As a basic engineering material, steel is also an essential factor in the development and deployment of innovative, CO2-mitigating technologies, improving resource efficiency and fostering sustainable development in Europe.
A list of 10 commitments that China made upon its accession to the WTO can be found: here