News that the US is pushing ahead with Section 232 25% tariffs on steel exported there by the EU, Mexico and Canada, has been met with anger from those whose steel industries will be affected.
Following Wilbur Ross' announcement in, of all places, Paris, the director general of the European Steel Association (EUROFER), Axel Eggert, has called the move 'naked protectionism' and 'a bad day for the world trade system'.
Mr Eggert called on the European Commission to 'swiftly adopt' safeguard measures that are broad in scope and comprehensive in terms of the countries covered, while ensuring access to traditional trade flows.
“However, what’s done is done – the US’ administration seems not to believe that being close, political, economic and geo-strategic partners is sufficient grounds to prevent the EU from being hit”, Eggert continued, adding that the EU needs to act fast and defend its internal market from 'the Section 232 effect'.
“The EU thus needs to act swiftly in its own interest to defend the internal market from the ‘Section 232 effect’ – the impact of steel deflected from the US border to the largest open steel market in the world: Europe’s”, stressed Mr Eggert.
“EUROFER calls for a quickly-deployed safeguard that covers the full product scope that will be affected – and warns that there cannot be country exclusions if the safeguard is to function. However, the purpose is not to exclude imports: it is preventative remedial action against the threat posed by import surges”, added Mr Eggert.
In the first four months of the 2018, imports have surged by 8.4%, almost certainly as a result of the Section 232 effect. 2017 already represented a high-water mark for imports into the EU – making rapid corrective remedial action all the more imperative.
“We regret that the US has taken this unnecessarily damaging step. We support the Commission in its responses to the US’ trade action – and urge all EU stakeholders to remain united in order to face down both the US’ measure and the incoming inundation of deflected steel products”, concluded Mr Eggert.