Section 232 sets a dangerous precedent that could be followed by other countries and paralyse many levels of trade, said speakers at Kallanish Europe Steel Markets in Antwerp last week.
A veto by the USA in the medium-term will block the work of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), said Eurofer Director International Affairs Karl Tachelet. In reply to question from the floor as to whether the WTO is “…dead,” Tachelet said: “You will unavoidably have less discipline from trade partners worldwide.” Gilles Calis of SteelConsult International added to this by stating that Section 232 plus retaliation from other countries could undermine the function of the WTO.
During his presentation Tachelet raised awareness of the wording of the USA, which talks about “…trade remedy” rather than “…trade measures… making it sound as though there was a disease to cure.” He similarly drew attention to the difference between antidumping measures, which is what the European Commission has enacted so far, and safeguards. The latter are new and unique, and pursued only in reaction to Section 232, and instigated by the Commission itself, not by Eurofer.
Furthermore, he gave examples of antidumping measures imposed by the EU this year and last. Duties against, for example, hot-rolled coil, organic coated coil, and rebar have clearly worked. They have, however, “…not worked for hot-dip metallic coated coil; the measure is almost certainly being circumvented, and Eurofer is looking into that,” he said.
On the other hand, in the case of grain-oriented electrical steels the European Commission is likely to dampen the effect of measures because they are creating a shortage and burden the users too much, he said.