New tensions between European Union and China on the issue of steel imports

Brussels/Beijing : The decision to impose a tax on the import of Chinese steel by European Union has sparked a new dispute. China has expressed strong displeasure over the issue and has questioned the validity of the decision. This is indicating the widening gap between China and the EU countries over trade issues. Last week, it had come to the fore during the ‘EU-China Summit’ that there are serious differences between EU countries and China over trade issues. 

As per the demand of its member countries, the European Commission had initiated and inquiry of the steel-producing companies of China. It was disclosed during the inquiry that these companies get assistance in a big way from various agencies including Chinese government banks. Against this backdrop, the European Union has decided to impose restrictions on the steel imported from China.

‘The European Union will continue to take necessary measures against the products being dumped in Europe from abroad and the unfair trade practices in the steel sector. A discussion on global level is going on, in connection with the excess production of steel. We hope that China will get the right signal to develop a competitive environment in this sector’, informed the Trade Commissioner of EU Cecilia Malmstrom about the restrictions being imposed on imports from China.

An import duty of 35.9% will be imposed on the steel exports from China to Europe. This is the second time in the year when import duty is being imposed on the Chinese steel imported in Europe. In last January also, it was decided by the European Union to levy import duty on certain Chinese steel products The US had also indicated similar kind of action.

China has expressed strong displeasure over the restrictions imposed once again by the European Union on the import of Chinese steel. ‘The export of steel from China to Europe has declined since 2016. The pretense that because China is making excessive production of steel, the steel industry in Europe is at risk, is not true. China has serious doubts over the legitimacy itself of this decision by the EU’, in such words, the Chinese Trade Department has condemned Europe.

China has also alleged that European countries are giving biased and inappropriate treatment to China, for their industrial problems. These allegations by China are indicative of the possibility of more tension in its business relations with the European Union. 

Last year, the ‘European Chamber of Commerce in China’ had alleged in a report that the environment in China was non-conducive for trade. After that, in January this year, the Ambassador of the EU to China, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut asked China to open up more of its market. Also, it had come to the fore at the EU-China Summit held in Europe last week that there are serious differences between the European countries and China over the trade issues. This had severely jolted the efforts to come closer, being undertaken presently by the EU countries and China, which are upset by the ‘America First’ policy of the US President Donald Trump.