Tougher defence tools against unfair imports to protect EU jobs and industry

Sea Tanker European Union 2018

Loading and unloading containers from ships at the docks of the ECT Delta Terminal in Rotterdam. © European Union , 2012 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Robin Utrecht.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

The EU could protect itself better against unfairly cheap imports and combat environmental or social dumping more effectively, under a law backed by MEPs on Wednesday.

Higher tariffs can be imposed on dumped or subsidised imports to better protect EU jobs and businesses, under a December 2017 informal agreement that was approved by the Parliament yesterday.

The agreed measures target unfair trade practices from non-EU countries and complement the recently approved anti-dumping rules focusing on non-EU countries that interfere heavily in the economy.

What’s new?

  • the EU will be able to set higher tariffs on dumped and subsidised imports (see tools in Background);
  • investigations into anti-dumping cases will be significantly shorter;
  • costs for EU industry resulting from international labour and environmental agreements will be reflected in the calculation of the duties;
  • a help-desk for SMEs will deal with complaints and investigative proceedings; trade unions will be involved in investigations and assess the duties to be imposed;
  • all products arriving into the EU will be strictly monitored from the moment when an investigation is notified until its actual start and registered to avoid stockpiling;
  • continental shelves and economic exclusive zones (sea zones, mainly used for energy production) will also be covered by the regulations, to close loopholes.
  • Quotes

”This long-overdue modernisation future-proofs our trade defence system. We live in tumultuous times and European workers and manufacturers are facing unfair trading practices that take many forms. We are giving our industries the right tools to protect jobs in Europe and ensure that trade takes place on a fair basis”, said Chair of the International Trade Committee, Bernd Lange (S&D, DE).

“This is the largest reform of the EU’s trade defence instruments for 23 years. We can now make sure our instruments are adapted to the modern, 21st century trading system. The EU should stand for free and rules-based trade and this is an important tool to ensure we can remain an open economy”, said EP Rapporteur Christofer Fjellner (EPP, SE).

Next steps

The new law enters into force on the day after its publication in the EU Official Journal, expected in the first half of June 2018.

Background

The EU is currently updating its 1995 trade defence law to counter unfair trade practices and reflect the changing needs of European firms, workers and consumers.

According to the new text, the EU would be able to set higher tariff barriers on dumped and subsidised imports through a stricter interpretation of the so-called lesser-duty rule, which allows authorities to impose lower tariffs if that is deemed sufficient to remove injury caused by unfair imports. A minimum profit target for European businesses would be included into the calculation of duties. MEPs also made sure that core international labour and environmental standards have to be met in the exporter country before common undertakings (an alternative by which tariffs are paid through amicable offers) can be agreed upon with non-EU businesses.

Parliament adopted its negotiating mandate already in February 2014, but discussions on the Commission’s 2013 proposal were stalled for more than three years in the Council.

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