Unfair trading practices by non-EU steel-producing countries have proliferated since the global crisis, claims EUROFER director-general Axel Eggert.

According to Eggert, the countries concerned are undermining the level playing field for EU steelmakers and weakening their margins.

“For Europe to keep its global leadership in this strategic sector with hundreds of thousands of highly skilled employees, trade policy needs to be reactive and effective, forcefully tackling third market access and raw material export restrictions, and enforcing the EU’s trade remedy instruments without inhibition against unfair trade practices," Eggert said.

Eggert said that securing an international level playing field has become increasingly challenging and that Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with major emerging, resource-rich economies have not been concluded. He said there was a growing number of protectionist measures in all steel regions of the world outside the EU.

Imports have absorbed what EUROFER has described as a 'moderate rebound in EU steel demand (demand has grown 4% over the first three quarters of 2014).Finished steel imports rose by 22% over this period and domestic deliveries by EU mills increased only 1.5% as EU mills lost market share to steel suppliers from abroad. Margins of steelmakers in third countries are protected by domestic policies.

Eggert believes that the EU should use the weight of its own vast domestic market to tackle third country market protectionism. He said that leverage towards third countries is critical for the EU especially in domains where World Trade Organisation disciplines and enforcement are weak, such as subsidies and raw material restrictions.

EUROFER argues that EU member states should support the European Commission’s proposal on the modernisation of EU trade remedy instruments to update Anti-Dumping and Anti-Subsidy Regulations, inter alia allowing the imposition of duties which better reflect the real injury caused to European industry (the EU’s “lesser duty” rule).

Market Economy status should not be granted to China as the Chinese economy 'as a whole' does not function on the principles of the free market and does not meet EU technical criteria.