EU to curb steel imports after Trump tariffs

EU manufacturers of the products ranging from hot and cold rolled sheets, plates, coated steel and tubes include ArcelorMittal, Voestalpine and Tata Steel. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2018
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EU to curb steel imports after Trump tariffs

BRUSSELS: The European Union will launch measures on Thursday designed to prevent a surge of steel imports into the bloc following the US imposition of tariffs on incoming steel and aluminum, the EU’s official journal said.
The European Commission has proposed a combination of a quota and a tariff to counter EU concerns that steel products no longer imported into the United States would instead flood European markets.
The measures are the third part of the EU’s response to US tariffs. It has also imposed tariffs on €2.8 billion ($3.3 billion) of US imports, including bourbon and motor bikes, and has launched a legal challenge at the World Trade Organization.
The quotas for 23 steel product categories have been set at the average of imports over the past three years, with a 25 percent tariff set for volumes exceeding those amounts. These quotas are allocated on a first come first serve basis.
The main exporters of steel to the EU are China, India, Russia, South Korea, Turkey and Ukraine.
The Commission said that the EU steel industry was “in a fragile situation and vulnerable to a further increase in imports,” with US tariffs reducing its capacity to sell there making them even more vulnerable.
“In the absence of provisional safeguard measures, it is likely that the situation will develop into actual serious injury in the foreseeable future,” the EU official journal said.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement that the bloc was faced with no choice given the threat of serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers, but that EU markets would remain open with traditional trade flows.
The Commission will continue its investigation, which was launched on March 26, until the end of the year. The provisional safeguards can be in place for up to 200 days.
Imports of 28 products increased by 62 percent from 2013 to 2017, most noticeably in 2016 and with further rises this year. However, for five products, imports did not increase, leading the Commission to exclude them from its measures.
For 12 steel product categories, imports from countries including China, Russia and Ukraine are already subject to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties. The Commission said it would consider suspending or reducing them to avoid the imposition of “double duties.”
EU manufacturers of the products ranging from hot and cold rolled sheets, plates, coated steel and tubes include ArcelorMittal, Voestalpine and Tata Steel.


Italy endorses China’s Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

Updated 24 March 2019
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Italy endorses China’s Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

ROME: Italy endorsed China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan on Saturday, becoming the first major Western power to back the initiative to help revive the struggling Italian economy.
Saturday’s signing ceremony was the highlight of a three-day trip to Italy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the two nations boosting their ties at a time when the United States is locked in a trade war with China.
The rapprochement has angered Washington and alarmed some European Union allies, who fear it could see Beijing gain access to sensitive technologies and critical transport hubs.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio played down such concerns, telling reporters that although Rome remained fully committed to its Western partners, it had to put Italy first when it came to commercial ties.
“This is a very important day for us, a day when Made-in-Italy has won, Italy has won and Italian companies have won,” said Di Maio, who signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Italian government in a Renaissance villa.
Taking advantage of Xi’s visit, Italian firms inked deals with Chinese counterparts worth an initial 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion). Di Maio said these contracts had a potential, future value of 20 billion euros.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) lies at the heart of China’s foreign policy strategy and was incorporated into the ruling Communist Party constitution in 2017, reflecting Xi’s desire for his country to take a global leadership role.
The United States worries that it is designed to strengthen China’s military influence and could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.
WARM WELCOME
Italy’s populist government, anxious to lift the economy out of its third recession in a decade, dismissed calls from Washington to shun the BRI and gave Xi the sort of red-carpet welcome normally reserved for its closest allies.
Some EU leaders also cautioned Italy this week against rushing into the arms of China, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying on Friday that relations with Beijing must not be based primarily on trade.
There was not even universal backing for the BRI agreement within Italy’s ruling coalition, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League, warning against the risk of China “colonialising” Italian markets.
Salvini did not meet Xi and declined to attend a state dinner held in honor of the visiting leader on Friday.
Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star Movement, says Italy is merely playing catch up, pointing to the fact that it exports significantly less to China than either Germany or France.
Italy registered a trade deficit with China of 17.6 billion euros last year and Di Maio said the aim was to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible.
After talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio in the morning, Xi flew to the Sicilian city Palermo for a private visit on Saturday afternoon.
He is due to head to Monte Carlo on Sunday before finishing his brief tour of Europe in France, where he is due to hold talks with Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.