Britain to review anti-dumping sanctions on Chinese-made steel

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“heavily dumped prices”, trade war, Donald Trump

The United Kingdom said on Tuesday that it is conducting a review of anti-dumping measures on Chinese heavy steel plates first put in place nearly six years ago to determine whether to keep them in place.

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The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), a new agency created following Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), is reviewing tariffs on a series of non-alloy and alloy steel products made in China, applied throughout 2021.

“This measure is one of a number which the UK transitioned from the EU system – the TRA is reviewing them to make sure they are still suitable for the UK’s needs,” the agency announced.

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The steel at issue is typically used in the manufacture of construction, mining and logging equipment, in oil and gas pipelines, and for shipbuilding and construction of bridges and buildings.

The anti-dumping measures were first put in place in 2016, following a decision by the European Commission, with duties ranging as high as 73.7 per cent. British authorities maintained the duties following the UK’s exit from the EU in 2020.

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The European Commission said at the time that its investigation confirmed that the Chinese products had been sold in Europe at “heavily dumped prices”.

The steel tariffs are one of 44 trade measures carried over from Britain’s time in the trade bloc. Each measure is now being reviewed by the trade agency.

The punitive duties cover non-alloy and alloy steel, excluding stainless steel, silicon-electrical steel, tool steel and high-speed steel. They also include certain hot-rolled steel of a thickness exceeding 10mm and of a width of 600mm or more or of a thickness of 4.75mm or more but not exceeding 10mm and of a width of 2.05m or more.

The steel tariffs first came into force at a time when UK producers were under pressure from cheap Chinese imports, but failed to prevent damage within the domestic industry.

British Steel fell into administrative receivership three years after the first tariffs were put into place, and the company’s assets were eventually acquired by China’s Jingye Group in late 2019.

In 2018 amid its trade war with China under former President Donald Trump, the US imposed 25 per cent tariffs on foreign steel, irking allies in Europe and the UK.

At the time, the EU implemented retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey and other products.

“heavily dumped prices”, trade war, Donald Trump

A worker directs a crane lifting steel rails at a steel factory in Handan, Hebei province, China in 2018. Photo: Reuters

The Biden administration reached an agreement in October to allow a limited amount of European-made steel into the US duty free.

The UK recently began formal negotiations to remove US tariffs on imports of its steel.

UK Steel, a trade body, said last week that the tariffs had reduced UK steel exports to the US by nearly 50 per cent.

“We hope the UK government can put its new independent trade powers to full use, building on the terms of the EU’s deal and delivering the best possible outcome for UK producers,” the group said on January 19.

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