EC to start anti-subsidy investigations against steel from China?
EC to start anti-subsidy investigations against steel from China?

12 October 2023 – Anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese steel the dealmaker in the dispute between the European Union (EU) and the United States? The European Commission appears to have already pulled up stakes, at least morally, in the struggle to reach a tentative agreement in the steel dispute between the United States and the EU.

EC facing anti-subsidy investigations against China?

China is considered one of the European Union’s most important trading partners. Even if the two sides do not agree on everything, they depend on each other. 

Anti-subsidy proceedings as dealmaker?

Now, presumably under pressure from the United States, the EC appears to be considering anti-subsidy investigations against steel products from China in the trade dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs and a possible Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum (GSA), to be announced at a joint summit in Washington on October 20, 2023.

EU anti-subsidy investigations morally questionable

However, regardless of what one may think of government measures on the Chinese side, it is morally and ethically questionable to want to initiate such market protection investigations for the sole reason that otherwise another agreement would not be reached.

EU has been subsidizing its own steel industry for decades

Especially because the EU had spoken out massively against the Biden administration’s huge subsidy package. And political demands had arisen in the EU for a similar package of subsidy measures. And especially the steel producing industry in the EU has been kept alive for decades by subsidies worth billions.

But we are writing about the EC here, and morality tends to be a bit weak if you can’t demand it from other countries and if it’s your turn to live up to it yourself.

Calculation of the European Commission

This can be seen, for example, in the publication date of the anti-circumvention investigation against stainless steel from Indonesia on August 11, 2023 and thus in the middle of the European vacation season. For many people, this probably halved the already tight deadline for participation.

It is not an isolated case that such investigations with tight deadlines were initiated by the EC at times when many people were probably not even aware of the investigation and were thus disadvantaged in terms of participation in such proceedings. 

At the EC, however, this is called a level playing field.

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