“Trade benefits businesses and consumers worldwide,” said Axel Eggert, director general of EUROFER. “But with the spectre of the deployment of broad protectionist measures on steel because of the US’ Section 232 investigation, as well persistent dumping fuelled by global overcapacity, governments must be ever more committed to enforcing the rules guaranteeing free and fair international trade”.

Eggert was speaking ahead of the G20 meeting of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany, and has seized the opportunity to ask participating heads of state and government to renew their commitment to free, fair and rules-based international trade – and deal concretely with steel overcapacity.

In April, the US announced a probe into whether imports into the country were a ‘national security’ concern. EUROFER has been clear that, as NATO allies of the US, EU-based producers of steel have long proven themselves to be reliable suppliers.

“The 3.2Mt of steel we export to the US are sold under free and fair market conditions. European steel producers are in no sense a threat to US national security. Only a very small proportion of the products exported have any plausible defence or security application. Section 232 is the wrong tool for the US to deploy to defend its steel from the dumping driven by global steel overcapacity, particularly if it harms the US’ allies”, stressed Eggert.

Europe is particularly affected by this overcapacity as excess production from many countries heads straight for the EU’s open market. Imports from eight of the top 10 steel exporting countries to the EU rose last year, with 2016 steel imports into the EU at their highest level since 2007, while EU exports declined by 11%. However, instead of blanket measures, EUROFER calls for a renewed effort in the G20 Steel Overcapacity Forum, established in 2016.

“Until global overcapacity is dealt with in a coherent way, trade defence instruments (TDIs) will continue to play an outsize role in preventing dumping. We continue to appeal to the Commission to strictly impose measures on countries – not just China – that sustain overcapacities and that dump unfairly low-priced steel on the EU market. We will ask the same if the US decision on Section 232 impacts upon EU producers or causes the diversion of US-bound products to the EU market”, Eggert concluded.

The G20 forum takes place in Hamburg, Germany, between 7-8 July 2017.