The European Commission has set preliminary safeguard measures against imports of 23 steel products, it said on Wednesday July 18.
The provisional measures will take the form of a tariff rate quota. For each of the 23 categories, tariffs of 25% will be imposed only once imports exceed the average of imports over the past three years.
The quota is allocated “on a first-come, first-serve basis, thus at this stage not allocated by individual exporting country,” the commission said.
The safeguard measures will come into effect on July 19.
The commission opened an investigation into 26 steel products in late March in an attempt to prevent steel shipments being redirected to the European Union due to the Section 232 import tariffs imposed by the United States. Two more products were added to the list in late June.
"The US tariffs on steel products are causing trade diversion, which may result in serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers in this industry... We are left with no other choice than to introduce provisional safeguard measures to protect our domestic industry against a surge of imports,” European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said.
“These measures [will] ensure that the EU market remains open and will maintain traditional trade flows... I am convinced [it will] strike the right balance between the interest of EU producers and users of steel, like the automotive industry and the construction sector, who rely on imports,” she said. “We will continue to monitor steel imports [before making] a final decision by early next year, at the latest."
The measures are being imposed against all countries, with the exception of some developing countries with limited exports to the EU, the commission said. And due to the close economic links between the EU and countries in the European Economic Area, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have also been exempted from the measures.
The provisional safeguard measures can remain in place for a maximum of 200 days. The definitive decision in the case will be made by early 2019, at the latest.
Twelve steel products covered by the current provisional safeguard measures are also subject to anti-dumping and countervailing duties in the EU. Therefore, the commission is going to consider whether the accumulation of the existing trade defense measures with the safeguard measures “would not lead to a greater effect than desirable,” the commission said.
To avoid the imposition of "double remedies" whenever the tariff quota is exceeded, existing anti-dumping and countervailing duties will be suspended or reduced to ensure that the combined effect of the measures does not exceed the highest level of the safeguard, anti-dumping or countervailing duties in place, the commission said.