India and some others, including Japan, Brazil and Russia, have criticised the EU and the UK for considering an extension of the existing safeguard measures on some steel product imports beyond the current termination date of June 30 2024.Also read: India’s major ports see 5% rise in traffic in FY24, driven by iron ore exports, coking coal imports“At a recent meeting of the WTO safeguards committee, most of the members opposing the extension  pointed out that the safeguard measures, which are basically tariff increases which kick in when steel imports exceeded a fixed quota, were already judged as being inconsistent with WTO rules by a dispute settlement panel and should therefore be terminated”, according to a Geneva-based trade official.The safeguard measures were imposed by the EU in 2019 after the US imposed additional duties on steel imports during the Trump administration. It is in the form of Tariff-Rate-Quotas (TRQs) reflecting traditional trade flows, above which a 25 per cent duty is levied on imports.In its defence, the EU representative said that the investigation for extending the safeguard measures was initiated at the request of EU member States which said they had prima facie evidence that the measure continues to be necessary, the source added. 
Global Criticism
China and Korea, which were among the countries opposing the move, noted that circumstances had changed since the measure was introduced in 2019 as the EU demand for imported steel had increased and the EU had struck a bilateral deal with the US exempting the bloc from US Section 232 tariffs on steel. Brazil, another country demanding a termination, said unilateral protectionist measures were not a sustainable solution for the global problem of excess steel capacity. Only a solution based on multilateral or plurilateral co-operation would work.Most of the countries criticising the EU also disapproved of UK’s safeguard measures on steel, the official said. “The countries, including India, noted that the UK had been imposing safeguard measures since it was a member of the EU and continued to do so even after Brexit, despite having failed to carry out an investigation justifying the measures in line with WTO rules,” the official said. The UK Trade Remedies Authority already recommended the extension of UK’s safeguard measure on the identified steel products till June 30 2026, which the UK government has to now decide whether to accept or not.Several members noted that the UK had been imposing safeguard measures against imports of steel products since it was a member of the EU and continued to do so even after Brexit, despite having failed to carry out an investigation justifying the measures in line with WTO rules. Turkiye pointed out that the UK was one of several US trading partners that were exempted from the Section 232 steel tariffs, and there was no reason left for the country to impose the measures, the source said.Korea criticised the UK TRA review report for failing to establish a clear causal link between the reported surge in imports and the injury suffered by domestic producers. Switzerland, too, voiced its concern over the fact that safeguard measures on several categories of steel products could be extended despite no increase of imports relative to domestic production.SHARE
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