Category Archives: trade

EU to modernised trade defence rules

“With today’s approval by the Council, we are very close to having the necessary tools to tackle unfair trading practices even more effectively. The EU stands for open and rules-based trade, but we must also ensure that others do not take advantage of our openness. I now look forward to the adoption of the new rules by the European Parliament to allow for their swift entry into force.” Said trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The Council gave a formal approval to the political agreement reached between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament on 5 December 2017 to modernise the EU’s trade defense instruments.The changes to the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations will make the EU’s trade defence instruments more adapted to the challenges of the global economy: they’ll become more effective, transparent and easier to use for companies. In some cases they will also enable the EU to impose higher duties on dumped products. The new rules will shorten the current investigation period and make the system more transparent. The companies will benefit from an early warning system that will help them adapt to the new situation in case duties are imposed. Smaller companies will also get assistance from a help desk, to make it easier for them to trigger and participate in trade defence proceedings. Also, in some cases, the EU will adapt its ‘lesser duty rule’ and may impose higher duties. This will apply to cases targeting imports of unfairly subsidised or dumped products from countries where raw materials and energy prices are distorted.

Porgress in talks with Mercosur and Indonesia

As part of its commitment to a transparent trade policy, the Commission today published reports from the latest negotiating rounds with Indonesia and Mercosur.

The round reports include information about progress in all areas of the respective negotiations. As regards Mercosur, the report concerns talks held from 21 February to 2 March. Although much progress was made during that period there is still work to be done, and the chief negotiators remain now in contact to explore how to move forward on the remaining issues and advance into the very last stretch of negotiations. As for Indonesia, the report refers to the fourth round of talks held from 19 to 23 February. The Commission presented on this occasion new text proposals that are now also publically available: one related to rules of origin and the other regarding technical barriers to trade in theautomotive sector. The aim in the negotiations is to achieve an ambitious and mutually beneficial trade agreement, including necessary guarantees to support sustainable development. The EU and Indonesia agreed to hold the next round of talks in Brussels before summer, at a date yet to be confirmed.

US duties on steel: possible exemptions

© European Union , 2018 / Photo: Mauro Bottaro.

At a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström met today with Minister for Economy and Industry of Japan Hiroshige Seko and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Commissioner Malmström and Minister Seko raised with Ambassador Lighthizer US President Trump’s decision to impose additional duties on imports of certain steel and aluminium products into the US under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. They emphasised the strong concern of both the European Union and Japan at the announced measures. As long-standing security partners of the United States, they underlined to Ambassador Lighthizer their expectation that EU and Japanese exports to the US would be exempted from the application of higher tariffs.

 Commissioner Malmström also met bilaterally with Ambassador Lighthizer to discuss the issue further, and gain additional clarity on the process surrounding the announced measures. She tweeted after their meeting: ”I had a frank discussion with the US side about the serious pending issue of steel and aluminium tariffs. As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures. No immediate clarity on the exact US procedure for exemption however, so discussions will continue next week.”

Steel tariff: Trump hit EU

President Trump has signed the order to hit steel imports from all countries with a 25% tariff – excluding Mexico and Canada for now – but choosing to slap duties on EU products. The European Steel Association (EUROFER) firmly condemns the decision by the President as being damaging and counterproductive for both the US and EU economies.

“The US measure baselessly includes EU producers, who will suffer significantly from the loss of one of its major export markets. The national security justification the President has used – and the linking of these tariffs to NATO funding – is an absurdity”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER.

The US imports around 35 million tonnes of steel per year. The concern for EU steel producers is not only the potential loss of access to a market with which they have strong commercial links, but even more that trade deflection towards the EU’s open market will be large and sudden.

“The loss of exports to the US, combined with an expected massive import surge in the EU could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the EU steel industry and related sectors”, emphasised Mr Eggert. “Ironically, estimates also show that the US could also suffer a net loss of jobs as a result of the measure.”

The EU has long been a fair and reliable supplier of high quality steels to the US market. European trade in steel is neither dumping, nor a threat to US national security by any stretch.

“The very real risk of trade deflection will require the EU to react with contingency safeguards to ward off any import surge caused by the Section 232 tariffs”, added Mr Eggert.

“We welcomed the announcement by the Commission that it would act immediately to defend its industry”, concluded Mr Eggert. “We cannot stand idly by while the US lights a match under the global trading system”.

Commercial war USA-UE: stop to Bourbon Whiskey

Imports of US Bourbon Whiskey in Italy are worth 25 million euros in 2017, the agri-food product most affected by the retaliation measures that the EU is evaluating. This is what emerges from an analysis of Coldiretti, the largest association representing Italian agriculture, on the impact on Italians of the commercial war that is unleashed after the announcement of the imposition of duties on steel by the US President Donald Trump.

Along with steel, motorcycles, clothing, shoes and cosmetics, the European Union is preparing – underlines Coldiretti – to hit some of the most representative products of the Made in USA food culture from red beans to peanut butter, from rice to blueberries, from tobacco to cigars, from orange juice to bourbon whiskey. The commercial war on the plate with the United States puts at risk – continues Coldiretti – about 4 billion of Italian-made agri-food exports with exports of food and beverages that are increasing by 6% in 2017. The USA – continues Coldiretti – rank in third place among the main Italian food buyers after Germany and France, but before Great Britain. The wine – concludes Coldiretti – turns out to be the most popular product by the Americans, in front of oil, cheese and pasta.

EU plan to counter US trade restrictions on steel and aluminium

We still hope, as a USA security partner, that the EU would be excluded. We also hope to convince the US administration that this is not the right move.”  Said Commissioner Malmström: “As no decision has been taken yet, no formal action has been taken by the European Union. But we have made clear that if a move like this is taken, it will hurt the European Union. It will put thousands of European jobs in jeopardy and it has to be met by firm and proportionate response. Unlike these proposed US duties, our three tracks of work are in line with our obligations in the WTO. They will be carried out by the book. The root cause of the problem in the steel and aluminium sector is global overcapacity. It is rooted in the fact that a lot of steel and aluminium production takes place under massive state subsidies, and under non-market conditions. This can only be addressed by cooperation, getting to the source of the problem and working together. What is clear is that turning inward is not the answer. Protectionism cannot be the answer, it never is.”

The College of Commissioners discussed today the EU’s response to the possible US import restrictions for steel and aluminium announced on 1 March. The EU stands ready to react proportionately and fully in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules in case the US measures are formalised and affect EU’s economic interests. The College gave its political endorsement to the proposal presented by President Jean-Claude Juncker, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. Speaking after the College meeting, The EU remains available to continue working on this together with the United States.The EU has been and remains a strong supporter of an open and rules-based global trade system.

EU extends anti-dumping measures on Chinese steel products


The Commission today prolonged the existing anti-dumping measures on Chinese imports of seamless pipes and tubes of stainless steel for another five years.

The duties, ranging from 48.3% to 71.9% were imposed initially in 2011, providing a level-playing field and a breathing space for EU producers, based among others in France, Spain and Sweden. The review investigation initiated in December 2016 showed that dumping from China continued, and that, if the measures were to lapse, significant quantities of dumped Chinese exports might be directed to the EU market. The measures on pipes and tubes used in the chemical and petrochemical industries will then continue at their current level. This is yet another action taken by the EU to defend EU companies and jobs against unfair practices in the international steel trade. The steel sector suffers from a global surplus that has driven down steel prices to unsustainable levels in recent years and had a damaging impact on EU producers and related industries. The EU is using the full potential of its trade defence toolbox to ensure fair conditions for its producers and their ability to maintain jobs in the sector. 53 measures are now in place on steel and iron products, including 27 on products coming from China. As a long-term solution to the overcapacity problem the EU privileges however measures that tackle the root causes of the crisis. To that purpose, the Commission engages in the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity that agreed last November on an ambitious package of concrete policy solutions to tackle the pressing issue of global overcapacity in the steel sector.

Progress in EU’s trade defence rules

“Today’s resoundingly positive vote means that the EU is one step closer to having the necessary tools to tackle unfair trading practices quickly and effectively. Together with the recently-agreed changes to our anti-dumping methodology, the EU’s toolbox of trade defence instruments will be even better suited to deal with global challenges. I now look forward to the speedy adoption of this decision by plenary of the European Parliament. The EU stands for open and rules-based trade, but we must ensure that others do not take advantage of our openness. The EU stands ready to defend its industry and workers from unfair competition.” Said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The international trade committee of the European Parliament endorsed the political agreement reached between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament on 5 December 2017 on the modernisation of the EU’s trade defence instruments.  The changes to the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations will make the EU’s trade defence instruments more adapted to the challenges of the global economy: they’ll become more effective, transparent and easier to use for companies. In some cases they will also enable the EU to impose higher duties on dumped products. The details of the agreement reached in December are now presented in a dedicated factsheet. The new rules will enter into force once the European Parliament and the Council conclude the respective ongoing approval procedures.

Tobacco: EU-wide track and trace system

Today the EU has taken a big step forward in combatting the illicit trade in tobacco products. The new EU-wide track and trace system adopted today will ensure that tobacco products in the EU are easily traceable with a unique identifier for each product. In addition, we are also making sure that tobacco products meet specific security requirements, with at least five types of authentication elements required per packet. The track and trace system and the security requirements should be in place by 20 May 2019 for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco and by 20 May 2024 for all other tobacco products (such as cigars, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco products).” Said Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis welcomed the adoption of a set of legal acts aimed at combatting illicit trade in tobacco products.

EU-Japan new Economic Partnership Agreement


The EU and Japan reached this morning an agreement on the final details of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

“The finalisation of the negotiations on the EU-Japan EPA demonstrates the powerful political will of Japan and the EU to continue to keep the flag of free trade waving high, and sends a strong message to the world. Beyond its considerable economic value, this Agreement is also of strategic importance.  It sends a clear signal to the world that the EU and Japan are committed to keeping the world economy working on the basis of free, open and fair markets with clear and transparent rules fully respecting and enhancing our values, fighting the temptation of protectionism. The EU-Japan EPA is one of the largest and most comprehensive economic agreements that either the EU or Japan have concluded so far. This EPA will create a huge economic zone with 600 million people and approximately 30 percent of the world GDP, and it will open up tremendous trade and investment opportunities and will contribute to strengthening our economies and societies. It will also strengthen economic cooperation between Japan and the EU and reinforce our competitiveness as mature yet innovative economies.”  President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Abe agreed.

The deal has now been endorsed by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and welcomed in a joint statement by President Juncker and Prime Minister of Japan Abe. The conclusion todaybuilds on the political agreement in principle reached during the EU-Japan Summit on 6 July 2017. Following a legal check and translation into all EU languages, the Commission will submit the text agreed today for the approval of the European Parliament and EU Member States. The aim is to have the agreement in place before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019.

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