Three years ago, the European Union Commission adopted temporary protection measures on steel imports that were set in the summer of 2018 as the final safeguard measures for a period of three years. This was valid until June 30, 2021. Now the European Union has agreed with Executive Regulations 1029/2021 On June 24, 2021, he decided to extend for another three years. Specifically, EU measures will continue in the same format and in the same scope from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2024.
For Switzerland, the country-specific quotas remain for the previous seven product groups. As a result, Swiss manufacturers do not directly compete with other countries such as China or India, at least in the categories that interest them. This provides at least some comfort and increases security planning for the steel export business. As before, Switzerland is not completely exempt from protective measures.
The UK also continues protective measures
For its part, the UK decided to adopt the EU’s precautionary measures on steel imports in a slightly modified form after leaving the EU. From January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021, restrictions on importing steel products into the UK were in effect for 19 product categories. It will be extended for another three years in the same way, but only for ten product groups. Procedures for the remaining nine product categories will be lifted on July 1, 2021.
The British protectorate did not provide for country-specific quotas for Switzerland, but only for global quotas. The export of steel products from Switzerland to the UK is much less than from the EU. However, it is still possible that bilateral trade of affected products will be restricted and associated with further efforts.
Protectionism instead of a global solution
For Swiss steelmakers, exports to the EU and UK remain limited for another three years and involve a lot of administrative work. US measures on steel under Section 232 also remain in effect. Despite the first positive signals from the new US administration, no concrete steps have been taken to remove these trade barriers. From a Swiss point of view, it is disappointing that these trade-restricting instruments persist. Rather than continuing to rely on protectionism, it would be desirable for the large steel-making nations to look for solutions in a multilateral framework.