* Stainless steel exports $1 bln in 2012
* EU steel body says China, Taiwan at 14 pct market share
(Adds EUROFER comment, EU-China trade tensions)
By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, June 26 The European Commission has
launched an investigation into accusations that China and Taiwan
have dumped billions of dollars of stainless steel in Europe, a
decision that could reignite trade tensions with Beijing.
The Commission said on Thursday that a complaint received in
mid-May from EU steel association EUROFER provided evidence that
stainless steel to Europe from Chinese and Taiwanese producers
had been exported at unfairly low prices.
"They are flooding the markets which are still unprotected
like the EU," EUROFER Secretary General Gordon Moffat said.
China's mission in Brussels was not immediately available
The anti-dumping investigation comes three months after an
easing of relations between Beijing and Brussels.
In March, just as China's Xi Jinping made his first visit to
Europe as president, Beijing ended investigations into imports
of EU wine and polysilicon and the EU Commission defused a
long-running telecoms trade dispute.
Both sides even discussed the possibility of a free trade
deal during Xi's visit to EU institutions in Brussels.
Yet tensions remain. The Commission has 14 ongoing
investigations into alleged dumping by, or illegal subsidies
for, Chinese makers of products from ceramic tiles to mandarin
EU imports of cold-rolled stainless steel sheet from China
and Taiwan totalled 758 million euros ($1.03 billion) last year,
according to EU statistics office Eurostat, a ten-fold increase
from the value in 2002.
EU production in 2012, the last year for which data is
available, was worth 23.6 billion euros.
EUROFER said European producers had carried out significant
restructuring over the past three years to reduce overcapacity
and improve their performance, but Chinese manufacturers had
built capacity and increased output to a level exceeding
EUROFER said the combined EU market share of China and
Taiwan had risen to about 14 percent in April. It also said that
Chinese exports of steel as a whole had risen to a record 8.07
million tonnes in May, a 41.5 percent increase in the year to
Moffat said EU stainless steel capacity was some 3.5 million
tonnes, that of the United States 1.5 million tonnes, while
overcapacity in Asia was 6.5 million tonnes.
His association believes duties of up to 20 percent would
have to be imposed to counteract the dumping.
The Commission's anti-dumping investigation will last as
long as 15 months, with the possibility of provisional measures
being imposed within nine months. Punitive import duties, when
imposed, typically last five years.
($1 = 0.7335 Euros)
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robin Emmott and