Global Scrutiny of EU and UK Steel Safeguards Sparks Criticism at WTO


EU (Parliament Politic Magazine) – India, along with several other nations, including Switzerland, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, and Russia, has voiced criticism over the European Union’s decision not to terminate its safeguard measure concerning specific steel products following a comprehensive review. 

Many of these countries argued that the EU’s safeguard duty, initially imposed in 2018 as a response to additional duties imposed by the Trump administration on certain steel imports from the EU, was deemed inconsistent with WTO regulations.

EU Defends Recent Steel Safeguard Review Amid Criticism

According to a trade official based in Geneva, most of the nations expressing their concerns believe that the EU’s safeguard measures were not justified by “unforeseen circumstances” and should have been discontinued after the review.

Members also raised objections against the United Kingdom for retaining its safeguard measures on specific steel product imports. They pointed out that the UK was presently in the process of reviewing these safeguards and contended that they should be revoked since they were not in alignment with WTO regulations from the outset.

In response to the criticism, the EU clarified that its recent review was not an extension of the safeguard measure, as some critics had alleged. Rather, it was an evaluation of whether to terminate the measure ahead of its scheduled expiration in June 2024.

The EU further emphasized that it had taken steps to address the dispute ruling related to the safeguard measure, ensuring its full compliance with WTO regulations.

UK Maintains Steel Safeguard Measures Amidst Calls for WTO Compliance

Regarding the UK’s safeguard review, it indicated that it would refrain from providing further comments at this stage, as the review was still in progress. Back in 2021, India had proposed imposing additional import duties totaling €292 million on specific products from the European Union in response to the safeguard measures.

In the subsequent year, India suggested imposing a 15 percent additional customs duty on 22 products, including items such as whisky, cheese, and diesel engine parts, imported from the UK. This move was in retaliation for the UK’s decision to impose restrictions on steel products following its exit from the EU.

European Union and United Kingdom Unveiled Changes To Safeguard Measures for Steel Products Last year

The European Union and the United Kingdom Unveil Updated Safeguard Measures for Specific Steel Imports”

Key changes introduced by the European Union, effective from July 1, 2022, include:

Exhaustion of Tariff Quotas: Once the tariff quota is depleted for a particular country, imports for select product categories from that country can still occur within the remaining portion of the tariff quota allocated to the same product category.

Suspension of Safeguard Measures for Ukrainian Steel: Safeguard measures on steel products originating from Ukraine have been temporarily suspended for the next two years.

Revision of Developing Country Product Categories: The list of product categories, which fall under the purview of definitive safeguard measures and originate from developing countries, has been updated.

Quota Volume Updates: Annex I has been revised to reflect changes in the volumes of the quotas.

The primary measures implemented by the United Kingdom include:

  • Extending safeguard measures for 15 steel categories for an additional 2 years, effective until June 30, 2024.
  • Suspending safeguard measures on steel products originating from Ukraine for the subsequent 2 years.

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TRA Also Did An extensive Review Of The Safeguard Measures 

The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) has initiated an extension review of the safeguard measure covering 15 categories of steel products.

This measure is set to expire on June 30, 2024. The review will assess whether it is advisable to recommend to the Secretary of State for Business and Trade an extension of the safeguard measure for a potential two-year period, extending its validity until 2026.

In 2020, the TRA conducted its initial review of safeguard measures applied to steel product categories transitioning from the EU to the UK. The government approved the TRA’s recommendation to prolong the safeguard measure for ten steel product categories for an additional three years.

Moreover, it authorized a 12-month extension of the current protections for five of the nine product categories that the TRA had suggested for revocation. Following a subsequent review in 2022, the Secretary of State chose to maintain the safeguard measures for 15 steel categories for an additional two years.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.