By Tom Miles
GENEVA, June 13 The European Union lodged a
complaint at the World Trade Organization on Thursday against
China's imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports of
stainless steel tubes, six months after Japan filed a similar
case, the WTO said.
The complaint centres on high-quality steel products that
China needs to build new power plants, crucial for its plans to
upgrade and clean up its electricity infrastructure.
China's steel industry, by far the biggest in the world,
found it could not produce the same products as cheaply as its
Japanese and European rivals. Beijing suspected the imports were
being priced unfairly and imposed anti-dumping tariffs.
"The EU believes the anti-dumping duties are incompatible
with WTO law, both on procedural and on substantive grounds,"
the EU said in a statement. "The duties of 9.7 percent to 11.1
percent imposed on European products are significantly hampering
access to the Chinese market."
The legal move confirmed a plan that EU sources had
disclosed to Reuters on Tuesday and it followed a series of
tit-for-tat trade actions fuelled by a dispute over China's huge
exports of cheap solar power components.
"The steel tariff isn't something new and China is doing it
in accordance with the law. The EU wants to send out the message
that it is watching measures taken by China very closely," said
a Chinese diplomat.
"What's imperative is the two sides need to seize the moment
and begin talks on solar panels."
An EU diplomat said the European Commission - the EU
executive - would hold talks on solar panels with China next
The EU complaint sets the clock ticking on the WTO's legal
process, which gives China up to 60 days to hold talks with the
European Union to try to settle the complaint.
The European Union said Japan's discussions with China,
which the EU attended, had failed.
Japan has already asked the WTO to adjudicate, and the
global trade body is poised to appoint three experts to judge
the case. But the EU suit may be amalgamated with the Japanese
complaint, effectively holding up Japan's case for months.
Details of the EU complaint were not immediately available
but the WTO said it cited several articles of the WTO's
anti-dumping agreement and article 6 of the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade, the same rules cited by Japan.
A previous U.S. complaint also targeted Chinese anti-dumping
duties on high quality steel products for power plants in a
separate case. China lost that case last year and has been told
it has until July 31 to bring its rules into line with the WTO's