The European Steel Association (EUROFER) has called upon member states to achieve a breakthrough on the modernisation of the European Union’s Trade Defence Instruments (TDIs).

EUROFER’s call for action comes ahead of meeting of trade ministers of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council. At the meeting big issues, such as TDI modernisation, Market Economy Status for China, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) are up for discussion.

Axel Eggert, director-general of EUROFER, said that EU trade policy is facing a range of challenges, not least of which are unfair trade and public reservations over TTIP and CETA. “However, we must not be naïve free traders: member states must act forcefully to shore up our defences against dumping from third countries and demonstrate the strength of their convictions that closer trade relations with market economy-driven countries – such as the USA and Canada – will contribute significantly to the prosperity of the European Union and its citizens,” he said.

Eggert said that ther was now a real opportunity to make progress on lifting the Lesser Duty Rule (LDR) and speed up the process of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases.

“Improved EU trade defence measures will send the right signal: that our partners must abide by the rules of free and fair international trade,” Eggert said,

They will also explore how to handle China’s demand to be granted MES. No decisions are expected but early indications suggest that the Slovak Presidency is working to build a framework to help advance these dossiers.

As for market economy status for China, Eggert said that China must fulfill the requirements to be considered a market economy before it can reasonably make such a cliam. “To date, China only fulfills one out of the five well-established EU criteria,” he said, adding that it does not have an economy in which the market determines prices – one of the most basic elements in determining eligibility for MES status.

The informal meeting of trade ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council takes place tomorrow, 23 September, in Bratislava.