Saturday

24th Feb 2018

EU countries agree to reinforce trade defence

  • Trade has become a contested EU policy in recent months, speeding up the need for an agreement on reinforced trade tools (Photo: imo.org)

EU states agreed to reinforce the bloc’s trade defence instruments on Tuesday (13 December) in a move hailed as a “major breakthrough”.

Reforming trade defence instruments has become a key priority for the EU recently, as steel overcapacity from China squeezes European businesses and as trade policy has become a key concern for voters feeling left out of the benefits of globalisation.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The European Commission proposed modernising trade defence instruments in 2013, but the file was stuck in the EU Council, where member states with different trade traditions disagreed over allowing higher tariffs to be imposed for dumping.

EU diplomats agreed to a compromise proposed by Slovakia, the rotating presidency of the EU. It was the sixth proposal put forward by the Slovak diplomats.

There has been a real political push to act, as EU leaders in October agreed on the need to reach an agreement before the end of the year.

One of the key stumbling blocks had been the so-called "lesser duty rule," by which tariffs are imposed at the lowest level possible.

The Slovak compromise suggested keeping the lesser duty rule but suspending it in “some justified cases”, for instance in cases of “state-induced” distortions in raw material and energy.

The compromise sets out that "higher duties can be imposed where there are raw material distortions and these raw materials, including energy, account for more than 27 percent of the cost of production in total and more than 7 percent taken individually, per piece."

The commission will have to prove the "justified cases", where the rule can be suspended.

The Slovak EU presidency argues that the reformed rules can respond better to unfair trade practices, and shield European producers from damage caused by unfair competition.

The commission has also argued that in the case of Chinese steel dumping for instance, the rule has limited EU tariffs to 21 percent, while the US, that has no lesser duty rule, could impose tariffs of 266 percent.

Some countries, like Britain and the Nordic countries, had opposed modifying the lesser duty rule, on the ground that it provided adequate protection for industries.

In a nod to these more liberal trading countries, the agreement extends the predisclosure time to four weeks from two weeks on upcoming measure and duties, giving more time to importers to adjust to the changes.

Peter Ziga, the Slovak minister in charge of trade said the agreement was a “major breakthrough”.

"Our trade defence instruments have remained largely the same for over 15 years but the situation on world markets has changed dramatically. Europe cannot be naive and has to defend its interests, especially in case of dumping. This is a crucial step towards a solid solution that would help EU producers cope with unfair competition and practices,” he said in a statement.

Other measures include shorter dumping investigation periods, which could be launched without an official request by an industry.

The commission welcomed the agreement. Talks between the council and the European Parliament will start “soon”, according to an official, under the Maltese EU presidency to agree on the actual legislation.

Opinion

EU dumping plan could ensure fairer China trade

A European Commission proposal on anti-dumping clears the way for the EU to abide by international obligations and avoid a trade war that would be dangerously counterproductive.

EU delays decision on trade defence

Trade ministers send a discussion on the level of import duties back to diplomats, also admitting that TTIP talks with the US are "in the freezer".

EU ministers to reinforce trade tools

Trade ministers will try to agree on measures to protect EU industries and discuss their policies after Ceta and Donald Trump's election.

Opinion

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table