German Steel processors: "Steel imports secure production in Germany"

by David Fleschen

"No blanket protective measures against steel imports - without taking account of the categories of goods. No country quotas - market access to steel products. And no speculation about trade flows as a criterion for the introduction of import quotas. "With these demands, the industry association Blechumformung e. V. (IBU) and the Fachvereinigung Kaltwalzwerke e. V. (FVK) continued its fight against the safeguard measures provisionally imposed by the EU Commission in July. Theses measures are intended to prevent a suspected diversion of steel products to Europe - triggered by US import tariffs.

Shortly before the end of the 200-day deadline set in the summer, the Industrieverband Blechumformung and the Fachvereinigung Kaltwalzwerke emphasize in a letter to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: "The losers in import quotas would be the steel-processing industries and their approximately 4.2 million employees. The winner would be the steel industry. It already has good sales in the categories of goods relevant to many IBU members. This is shown both by the economic indicators of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the company results of important flat steel producers. "

The associations are not generally opposed to protective measures, but consider these to be overdone for the relevant categories of goods: "There is no differentiation. We do not see any current "shock situation" triggered by external events for the steel-producing industry. The EU Commission itself has shown that the situation in the individual categories is very heterogeneous. So it does not make sense to consider them as a single entity when looking for criteria for or against safeguards. Steel is not the same as steel. No EU user will introduce hot wide strip instead of large tubes to save costs. He can not work with that. "

The external triggers for the safeguards are the US tariffs on steel imports initiated in 2017 and imposed in March 2018. However, the EU Commission focuses on the period from 2013 to 2016 in the safeguards decision. "When it comes to unpredictable developments triggered by US tariffs, the Commission should also take the appropriate window of opportunity into account," criticizes the IBU. In fact, at this stage, imports have not increased or decreased significantly, as evidenced by Eurostat figures until September 2018. "Trade flows depend on ever-changing factors. Their development is open, no one knows whether the US tariffs will affect the import development in the long term. Serious facts are missing, speculation dominate. And exactly these must not be the basis for such a far-reaching protective measure as the safeguards, "emphasizes FVK Managing Director Martin Kunkel.

Also, the EU-contemplated country-specific import quotas reject the IBU. For the Federation, that would be a drastic restriction on the supply of steel processors. And a "far-reaching elimination of import competition, which would lead to significant price increases."
Source: FVK / IBU, photo: fotoalia

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