Commission confirms changes to EU steel import quotas

Commission confirms changes to EU steel import quotas

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The European Commission today announced the outcome of revisions to its steel import safeguard quotas, which will be effective from tomorrow.

All country-specific quotas will now be administered quarterly rather than annually in order to avoid stockpiling at the start of each period, as had previously been the case with Turkish rebar before the first review of the safeguards.

“This adjustment will ensure a more stable flow of imports and minimise the existing very high risk that the opportunistic conduct of exporters conflicts with the legitimate interest of other market participants throughout the next period of measures — 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021,” it said.

Although a rumoured change, the commission has decided not to stop the carry-over of unused volumes in the quarterly quotas from one quarter to the next.

Perhaps the change with the most significant implications is on the quota for hot-rolled coil (HRC), which until now was the only quota without a country-specific allocation, but rather a global volume, to which every exporter had access. This will be amended in line with the rest of the product quotas — countries that supplied over 5pc of the volume imported in 2015-17 will now have country-specific quarterly quotas. There will be a 30pc cap to their access to the residual quota once they exhaust their own.

The commission has also introduced three different regimens to avoid the so-called crowding out of traditional trade flows, when access to the residual quota opens up to all countries that have exhausted their own country quota, and as a result smaller suppliers have been crowded out.

Regimen one will not allow further access to the residual quotas in the last quarter of each period for coated sheets, wire rod, gas pipes and cold finished bars. Regimen two will see a limited access to the unused volumes for stainless plates, merchant bars, rebars, stainless bars, stainless wire rod, hollow sections, stainless tubes and pipes, and wire. Regimen three will apply to all other products and will see no change, allowing unlimited access to the quotas for those with exhausted country-specific allocations.

There are four special cases — HRC, auto-grade galvanised coils, large welded tubes of a third-country origin and stainless sheets and strips. As previously mentioned, HRC will have a 30pc cap to any country’s use of the residual quota, but so will auto-grade galvanised coils, falling under category 4B. The commission has decided not to re-introduce the end-use clause in the 4B quota, as it was not useful when it was in place in October-December 2019 and January-March 2020.

The commission has also revised its excluded developing countries list. Brazil is now subject to the measures for electrical sheets, North Macedonia for merchant bars and sections, Tunisia for metallic coated sheet, Turkey for tin mill products, the UAE for hollow sections and Vietnam for organic coated sheets. Notably, Egypt has been added to the list of countries for which the safeguards for HRC do not apply.

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