12 May 2020
The UK’s new Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), to be established under the Trade Bill currently going through Parliament, will be paying particular attention to the latest report from the European Commission.
The 38th Annual Report from the Commission on the EU's anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard activities, and the use of trade defence instruments (TDIs) by third countries targeting the EU in 2019 sets out areas covered by the Commission for which the TRA will be responsible once the UK leaves the Union.
Available at https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2020/may/tradoc_158733.PDF, it reveals that anti-dumping or anti-subsidy duties imposed by the Commission lead on average to an 80% decrease in unfair imports.
In 2019, the Commission launched 16 investigations (against 10 in 2018) and imposed 12 new measures (against 6 in 2018).
By the end of the year, the EU had in place 140 trade defence measures — 5% more than the year before. Those included 121 anti-dumping, 16 anti-subsidy and 3 safeguard measures.
Easily the highest number of EU trade defence measures concerned imports from China (93 of the existing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures) with the next nearest, Russia, recording only 10.
As well as imposing defences against what it sees as unfair exporting practices by other countries, the Commission also polices the TDIs imposed by those countries against exports from the EU Member States.
Here the United States has become a major problem with 36 measures in force (33 in 2018). Compared to 2016, this represents an increase of 71%, which is mainly due to many new measures imposed, in particular in the steel sector.
Total TDI measures in force affecting EU exports amounted to 175 at the end of 2019 and the Commission expects this high number to be maintained in the year ahead, as it is already carrying out a high number of new investigations in the current year.
The report notes that the main problem areas with regard to TDIs are steel and chemical and agricultural products.
One area to which the new TRA will need to pay careful attention is the practice identified by the Commission, whereby exporting producers engage in specific activities for the sole purpose of avoiding the payment of anti-dumping duties.
Such practices include shipping the product through a country not subject to duties to mask its real origin (transhipment), slightly modifying the product so that it does not attract duties or exporting through an exporting producer with lower individual rates of anti-dumping or countervailing duties (company channelling).