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Trade defence: measures against EU exports increase in third countries

EC report on trade defence confirms increase in third-country measures against EU exports. Steel is the sector most affected.

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Types of trade defence instruments

The EU is one of the main users of trade defence instruments globally. It ensures that procedures are followed rigorously and takes all the Union’s interests into account. The EU applies these instruments in accordance with WTO law. 

The types of trade defence instruments (TDI) are:

  • anti-dumping measures, which are duties on imports of products from a non-EU country sold in the EU below the sales prices in their domestic market or below the cost of production.
  • anti-subsidy measures, which are duties on imports of subsidised products. Subsidisation is when a non-EU government provides financial assistance to companies to produce or export goods.
  • safeguard measures: unlike subsidies and dumping, safeguards are not taken to address unfair trade practices. Rather they are concerned with imports of a certain product that increase so suddenly and sharply that EU producers can’t reasonably be expected to adapt immediately to the changed trade situation. These short-term measures aim at regulating the imports, giving EU companies temporary relief and time to adapt to this unforeseeable surge. 

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13th annual report on non-EU countries trade defence actions

The European Commission has recently adopted its 13th annual report on non-EU countries trade defence action taken against the European Union. The document, that sets out the general trends, achievements and problems faced in 2015 and gives details of the more notable cases as well, shows there was an increase in the number of measures in force against EU in 2015 and that cases are becoming more complex

Most of the trade defence measures against the EU in 2015 were in anti-dumping, while there were some safeguard measures too. The number of measures in force at the end of the year was 151, compared to 140 at the end of 2014. In 2015, 37 new measures were imposed against the EU, a comparable number to those put in place the previous year. 

India, China, US and Brazil are the most prolific users of trade defence instruments against the EU, but several other countries have also been active. Steel was the sector most affected, with 19 new investigations in 2015, followed by the chemical sector with 7 new investigations. The year was also marked by an increased complexity of cases due to various factors such as the ongoing debate on global steel overcapacity and, in some countries, the economic context where TDI measures may be used for political reasons and be applied for protectionist purposes

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