Economy & Finance

EU says wants WTO ruling versus Chinese steel duties

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PARIS (Reuters) – The European Commission will lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Chinese duties on steel tubes used in power plants, the bloc’s industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said on Wednesday.

Tajani’s comments come after EU sources told Reuters on Tuesday the bloc’s executive body would seek to overturn duties on exports to China of seamless stainless steel tubes made by firms such as Spain’s Tubacex S.A (TUBA.MC ) and Germany’s Salzgitter A.G (SZGG.DE ).

The move will allow the EU to join a related complaint filed by Japan against Chinese duties in December and is the latest sign of escalating trade tensions between the two, who are at odds in sectors ranging from solar panels to wine.

“We are in the process with (EU trade commissioner Karel) De Gucht of filing a complaint, like Japan did, to the World Trade Organization,” Tajani said.

“We are working on it. We are at the beginning of this. In the next few days you’ll have new news,” Tajani said on the sidelines of a news conference in Paris. Under WTO rules, the EU had a limited time to join a complaint already filed by Japan.

The EU sources told Reuters the filing might come as soon as Thursday or Friday.

The EU complaint considers the duties on the seamless stainless steel tubes to be retaliatory rather than justified by objective evidence.

“There are rules, they must be respected,” Tajani told the news conference, commenting on world trade rules in general.

The move follows China’s decision last week to take aim at exports of the European wines and an EU decision to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels as tensions rise between two of the world’s biggest trade partners.

Tajani was speaking a day after presenting recommendations to revive Europe’s steel industry, hurt by tumbling demand and plant closures.

(Reporting By Ingrid Melander- editing by Mark John)

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