Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the UK Steel Association

UK GOVERNMENT ATTITUDE TO ANTI-DUMPING MEASURES

  In UK Steel's belief and experience, the UK Government has for many years (dating from when Nicholas Ridley was Secretary of State at the DTI) maintained a presumption against the imposition of anti-dumping duties. This presumption derives at least partly from an ideological belief held by many officials in both the DTI and Treasury that any interference with free trade flows is an infinitely worse evil than refusing to provide temporary support to embattled manufacturers. This attitude is in stark contrast to that of the US Government, which rigorously exerts its WTO rights to "discipline" dumped steel, and to the more balanced approach of the European Commission.

  This ideological bias can manifest itself in many ways. Most common are: the UK's second guessing of the Commission's findings on injury, with the UK adopting higher injury standards than those of the Commission and WTO; and using the "Community interest" clause in the anti-dumping regulation to give greater weighting to the interests of consumers over those of local producers.

  It is difficult to provide hard documentary evidence of this bias, as it is based on impressions gained during discussions with many officials over a long period—many of them informal and off-the-record. The best evidence we believe lies with HMG's voting record in the EU's Anti-Dumping Committee. In the three cases in which UK Steel has been most directly involved over the past two years, the UK voted as follows:

    Stainless wire from India—The UK voted in favour of countervailing duties, but against anti-dumping duties, even though the facts in respect of injury and Community interest were identical. This was a clear indication that anti-subsidy measures were ideologically more acceptable than anti-dumping measures.

    Hot rolled coil from Bulgaria, India, Iran, South Africa, Taiwan and Yugoslavia—Even though the minister accepted that the steel industry was being injured by these dumped and (in some cases) subsidised imports, the UK voted against duties. This was because the Commission and other Member States were not prepared to accept the UK's argument that duties only be applied for one year, as opposed to the normal practice of five years (as laid down in the EU regulation and WTO agreement).

    Hot rolled plate from India, China, and Romania—Again, officials were prepared to accept that there had been injury caused by these dumped imports, but concentrated in the most recent months. The UK abstained. Such is the UK's reputation on anti-dumping matters in the EU, that an abstention is often regarded as success by domestic producers!

  Fortunately, in all these cases there was majority support for duties, and measures are now in place.

Recycling and the CCL

GROWTH/DECLINE IN THE PROPORTION OF EAF STEELMAKING IN EU AS A PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL STEEL PRODUCTION

Country
1984
EAF Steelmaking
(per cent)
1998
EAF Steelmaking
(per cent)
Growth/Decline
(per cent)
France
19
40
110
Benelux
6
35
480
Germany
19
27
42
Spain
60
71
18
Italy
53
59
11
UK
32
22
(31)
TOTAL EU
*30
38
27

Notes: Proportion of EAF Steelmaking has declined in the UK and increased in EU.
*Corrected for EU15.
Source: ISSB—Eurostat.







 
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Prepared 14 March 2001