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Extension of European Union’s steel import safeguard measures

The European Union has officially extended its safeguard measures on steel imports until the end of June 2026, as notified to the World Trade Organization. Additionally, within the quarterly quota for “other countries,” a 15 percent restriction on imports of hot-rolled coils and wire rod from any individual country is being introduced.

Over the next two years, the pace of tariff liberalization (TRQ) will be reduced from the current 4% to 1%. This adjustment aims to align the pace of liberalization with the evolution of consumption, which has decreased by 17% since the measures were introduced, while TRQs have increased by almost 25%.

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The proposed amendments are set to take effect on July 1, 2024. The European Commission’s investigation revealed significant changes in the structure of import flows to the EU, affecting the functioning of safeguard measures. This led to a reduction in exports from traditional suppliers and a surge in imports from new countries of origin, driven by overcapacity in certain regions and increased Chinese exports.

To preserve traditional trade flows and ensure the effectiveness of the measures, adjustments are necessary in two product categories. For instance, limiting suppliers from one country to a 15% share may lead to underutilization of the quarterly quota for “other countries,” but it will enable more even use of quotas from other sources.

This decision is expected to impact prices, with additional space for European competitors potentially leading to an increase of €20-25 per ton of coil. Italy has also introduced a new experimental procedure for quotas since April 1, allowing for the possibility of refusing import operations in case of quota exhaustion.

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