China does not merit being granted market economy status by the EU, says EUROFER president Robrecht Himpe.

Speaking at the recent 5th European Steel Day in Brussels, Himpe told delegates that China does not meet the required technical conditions and its policies continue a strong role for the state rather than true market forces.

According to Himpe, China increasingly plays a central role on the world market, not just in the steel industry.

Chinese steel exports worldwide, however, reached an historic peak of 93Mt in 2014, representing 60% of total EU steel consumption.

Chinese exports to the EU, he said, grew from 1.2Mt in 2009 to 4.5Mt in 2014 – a fourfold increase. “And it’s exports have been further increasing this year,” he said.

Himpe argued that granting market economy status (MES) to China would allow the EU’s manufacturing core to be eroded by unfair trade policies and practices.

Making reference to the controversial Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, which may or may not be rubber-stamped by the EU next week, Himpe commented that the EU must align it’s position with the USA and Canada, the latter having recently reversed its decision on granting MES to China.

While Himpe praised the European Commission’s ‘more listening attitude’ towards the plight of the European steel industry, he said that the industry’s competitiveness and its profitability were at stake along with thousands of jobs across Europe.