China steel industry adds voice to steel import concerns

Workers walk past steel pipes at a steel mill in Cangzhou, Hebei province, China March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Muyu Xu

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s steel industry on Tuesday urged Beijing to ensure any increase in steel products seeking a market in the wake of U.S. tariffs did not affect its domestic industry, following the announcement of a European Union import probe.

The comments by the China Iron & Steel Association (CISA) came after the EU initiated a probe on Monday into imported steel in response to the U.S. tariffs, worried that steel manufacturers subject to the tariffs may divert their products to Europe.

The U.S. tariffs, of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, came into force last Friday.

CISA said the EU investigation would complicate the response to the U.S. tariffs and add uncertainty to the global steel market.

“We appealed to the Chinese government to take relevant measures if necessary and strictly prevent the surge of imports from affecting the Chinese market,” it added.

China, the world’s biggest steelmaker, exported 75.43 million tonnes of steel products in 2017 and imported 13.3 million tonnes of steel products in 2017, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

China’s commerce ministry said on Monday that China is willing to strengthen communications and coordination with European Union to cope with chaos caused by the U.S. tariffs, adding that protective measures would only make the situation worse.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason