The decision, which was taken last week, does not put an end to the issue, however, and the European Commission may yet set definitive anti-dumping measures by October 6 this year, Metal Bulletin reported.
Iranian steel exports, especially HRC shipments, grew nearly eightfold between 2013 and 2016 to just over 1 million tons annually, leading to EC’s dumping allegations against Iran.
The EC previously released a preliminary document that imposed a minimum import price on HRC from Iran, Russia, Ukraine and Brazil. Suppliers from these four countries will be required to pay anti-dumping duties in the range of 5.30-33% if they sell their products for less than €468.49 ($561.06) per ton at EU border ports.
“The [European] commission has informed all interested parties about the findings so far and presented its proposal to the member states in the Trade Defense Committee. The procedure is continuing, however, and no decision has yet been made,” an EC source said.
“The [Trade Defense] committee did reject the commission’s proposal with a qualified majority vote against, but this doesn’t mean the measure is dead. It merely means that the commission can either make a new proposal or take its existing proposal to appeal,” a spokesman for European steel association, Eurofer, said.
“We have no idea how this is going to play out; only that [the EC] must act quickly, as the deadline for measures is October 6,” he added.
“The Trade Defense Instruments Committee rejected the proposal. It is hard to make any forecasts at this point, but it is not a definitive rejection; it is just one stage of the procedure that the case did not pass,” a trade lawyer involved in the case said.
“The vote will continue in the near future, and it could result in a change of the proposal about the form of trade defense measures.”
Tommaso Sandrini, president of Italian steel distributors’ association Assofermet, said the proposal as written [by the EC] was rejected by a majority of member states. This means that we might get a new proposal from the EC but all the procedures should be completed by October 6.”
“I do not think that there is enough time to make a new proposal, inform all the parties involved, collect feedback and analyze it. They could cancel the MIP, or set a different level of the MIP for different products, or make it adjustable to [accommodate] fluctuations in production costs,” he said.
“There is also an extreme situation where both the EC and the committee maintain their positions. In such a circumstance, if the same proposal is made again, the investigation will end without any outcome–meaning no duties and no MIP,” he said.
“But there is also a chance that the committee will accept it with a few minor amendments. ‘No decision’ is not a good scenario for anyone.”
Sandrini criticized the increasing level of uncertainty in the market.
“We have one more month of ‘wait and see’ before any business is resumed with the four countries. In the medium term, any scenario is possible, but I expect the EC to come up with some kind of compromise,” he added.
When the trade case started in July last year, a consortium of steel companies from Italy and elsewhere across Europe was established by Assofermet to maintain competition in the EU steel market. EU countries, including those with steelmakers and those interested in cheap steel, opposed the overall plan, EU sources told Reuters.
The former believe the measures were too weak, the latter considered them too strong.