European Commission Proposes Lowering Steel Quota Hike to 3%

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Andrey Kuzmin/Adobe Stack

Lacking a Trumpian figure in overall charge of such measures, import controls take time to be worked out in Europe, as they require consensus among E.U. members that often have conflicting priorities.

One issue they do seem to agree on, though, is the need to protect Europe from rising imports of cheap steel products.

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The E.U. has had in place temporary measures for a year now, according to a Reuters report. The bloc has had in place for a year a system of “safeguard” measures to control the incoming steel following Washington’s imposition of 25% steel import tariffs.

The measures set quotas for 26 grades of steel, including stainless, and were set at the average level of imports in 2015-2017, plus 5%. They allowed for a further 5% hike due in July and the same again in July 2020.

Following complaints that Europe’s steel market is too weak to absorb the planned increase in quotas, the European Commission has proposed that this year’s hike should be 3% effective from Oct. 1.

The figures seem to support this complaint.

Reuters reported that the E.U. steel association EUROFER estimates apparent steel consumption, which includes inventory changes, will fall by 0.6% this year and rise by 1.4% in 2020.

Set this weak demand position against last year’s imports — imports of finished steel products rose by 12% in a market that grew by only 3.3%, effectively increasing import penetration and depressing prices for domestic producers.

The revised measures also involve limiting any one country to a 30% share of imports of hot-rolled flat steel during a quarter, a move that may hit Germany before any other (it being the region’s largest consumer by some margin).

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Close neighbor Turkey is cited as one likely casualty of the move as a significant supplier of steel products, along with stainless steel from Indonesia.

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