EU Commission Adopts 'Safeguard Measures' On Steel

By Agence France-Presse The European Commission on March 27 adopted a series of "safeguard measures" aimed at protecting EU markets against an influx of steel exports diverted from the U.S. after Washington imposed stiff protectionist tariffs on steel imports. "These provisional measures . . . will apply to products subject to increased U.S. tariffs and on which U.S. imports have been increasing," said Commission President Romano Prodi. "They will be applied in a non-discriminatory way and, in accordance with [World Trade Organization] rules, will not apply to imports from developing countries." Prodi stressed the measures were "provisional," and "in no case" would they apply "a day longer than those of the Americans." The safeguard measures consist of tariffs of between 14.9% and 26% on 15 categories of steel products whose imports into the EU exceed a specified level. The new U.S. steel import tariffs, imposed about three weeks ago, were set at 30% for the bulk of steel categories. European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said the EU safeguard measures would go into effect March 28. "The safeguard measures are intended to protect the European steel industry against the effects of the closure of the U.S. steel market, which has led to steel being diverted to Europe," said Lamy. "We think there's a risk of diversion of about 15 million tons [of steel to Europe]; that's more than 50% of our requirements," he said. Lamy noted that prior to Wednesday's action, "We already brought [a complaint] before the WTO" about the U.S. tariffs, and "we have started talks with the U.S. on compensation." He said the effect on worldwide steel prices would be negligible. The European steel industry cheered the commission's action. "The EU safeguards are a positive contribution to the stabilization of the European market in that they will prevent diverted tonnage from exerting greater import pressure, EUROFER, the European Federation of Iron and Steel Industries, said in a statement. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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