Bristling under cheap imports from China, thousands of people from Europe’s beleaguered steel and aluminium industry will gather in Brussels next week to protest against steps by the European Union to give greater access to China to the continental market, organisers said.
The march, on February 15, is being organised by AEGIS Europe, an alliance of 30 European industrial sectors including steel, aluminium, ceramics, glass, solar panel and bicycle manufacturing, which combined generate over €500 billion in annual turnover and millions of jobs.
The European Steel Association (Eurofer) said employers and employees from the entire European steel industry would be attending the march to show support for fair trade, growth and jobs in the continent, and against Chinese dumping on the EU market.
European companies are worried over moves by the European Union to grant the Market Economy Status (MES) to China. The EU is debating whether to treat China as a market economy from December, 15 years after Beijing joined the World Trade Organization.
“European employees, trade unions and employers are united in their message to Brussels: China is not a market economy. The EU must not grant China MES. Chinese dumping destroys EU jobs and undermines free and fair trade. Europe cannot afford to put up to 3.5 million jobs and €228 billion in lost annual GDP at risk,” AEGIS Europe said in a statement.
Axel Eggert, director general of Eurofer, said dumped steel imports from China, volumes of which have doubled in 18 months, are flooding the EU market and directly causing irreversible closures and job losses across the EU steel sector.
He said China has domestic steel overcapacity of around 400 million tonnes, almost three times the total EU steel demand of 155 million tonnes. This overcapacity has arisen as a result of persistent state intervention in the Chinese economy.
“China is quite simply not a market economy. It does not yet meet 4 out of the 5 EU criteria to be considered as such. To prematurely grant MES when China meets neither the EU criteria nor its WTO obligations would be economic and political folly”, emphasised Eggert.
Dumped products from China have much larger environmental footprint – about 50% greater – than equivalents produced in the EU”, added Eggert. “They thereby undermine the objectives of the EU ETS to reduce CO2 emissions. The current Commission proposal on the EU ETS post 2020 must therefore guarantee that it does not lead to costs which are not borne by our global competitors, at least at the level of the most efficient plants in Europe. According to a recent study, the proposed EU ETS reform may cost the steel industry alone about €34 billion.”
Of the 69 EU anti-dumping duties in force on a range of products from steel to solar panels, only 17 are not targeted against China. The EU is China’s largest trading partner, while China ranks second after the United States for the EU.