EU to use 'all defenses' against China steel exports – Juncker
BEIJING, China – European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday, July 13, that the bloc would use all possible means to protect itself from a flood of Chinese steel imports blamed for turmoil in global markets.
"The EU will defend its steel industry. We are not defenseless, and we will use all the means at our disposal," Juncker told reporters in Beijing.
He said there was a "clear link" between China cutting steel overcapacity and the EU granting it "market economy status" – a prize eagerly sought by Beijing.
China has been pressing the EU to grant it the status – which would make it harder for the bloc to levy anti-dumping tariffs – before the year's end, citing World Trade Organization rules.
Juncker said that the EU had "not made up its mind" on the matter, but would do so following an "impact assessment."
Chinese steel exports to the EU rose 28% in the first quarter of this year, while prices dropped by more than 30%, he cited official statistics as saying.
The Commission chief spoke after an annual EU-China business summit, where he hailed a "new era of bilateral relations", but added it "must take into account the importance of steel around the world."
China's ministry of commerce said Wednesday it would fight Washington's steel tariffs through the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement process, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing says reducing overcapacity and cutting state-subsidies to the steel sector are top priorities in its economic reform drive.
But foreign governments say they have seen little movement towards implementation.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang defended his government to the summit, saying that overcapacity and falling commodity prices were not "triggered by any one country."
"This requires us to all help each other," he added.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said there was "urgent pressure" for China to curb its excess capacity at the annual meeting.
She called for non-viable companies to exit the market through bankruptcies, and the elimination of state subsidies.
"The overcapacity issue, particularly in the steel sector, needlessly pits workers in China and the European Union against each other," she said. "The ultimate solution can only come from a more market-based approach." – Rappler.com
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