May 14, 2020 / 3:23 PM / 23 days ago

EU opens dumping probe into Turkish steel imports

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Commission has opened an investigation into whether Turkey is dumping hot-rolled flat steel products in the European Union, it said on Thursday, as Europe suffers from tumbling demand.

Turkey was the top source of finished steel product imports into the EU in 2018, with a surge of 65% to 6.17 million tonnes from the previous year.

“The investigation will determine whether the product under investigation... is being dumped and whether the dumped imports have caused injury to the union industry,” the Commission said in its official journal on Thursday.

The European steel industry was hard hit last year, with apparent steel consumption down 5.3%, the worst performance since 2012, according to the region’s steel association Eurofer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further knocked business activity as key end-use sectors such as automakers shut down, prompting steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal to shut blast furnaces.

Eurofer, which filed the complaint that led to the probe, said last month that EU steel production was down by about 50% and new orders have fallen by 70-75%.

Last month, the EU trade chief warned that the coronavirus crisis could lead to massive stockpiling of steel that could then flood the European Union when demand returns.

The EU put in place safeguards in 2018 to control incoming steel to protect European manufacturers after Washington’s imposition of 25% steel tariffs closed the U.S. market to many exporters.

Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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