European dispute

Steel Woes Spark Fears of China Trade War

Europe’s steel firms worry that the sun could be setting on their industry.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Thousands of steelmaking jobs in Europe are at risk from cheap Chinese imports — but the punitive tariffs being called for could trigger a trade conflict that could do wider economic damage.

  • Facts


    • Seven E.U. governments have called on the European Commission to take tougher action to curb imports of cheap Chinese steel.
    • The E.U. is the second largest producer of steel in the world after China, contributing 11 percent of global output.
    • Several German politicians warned Monday of the risk of triggering a new trade dispute between China and Europe.
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Leading German politicians warned of a new trade dispute with China after seven countries, including France, Britain and Germany, urged the European Union to take tougher action to protect the bloc’s steel industry from cheap Chinese imports.

“A trade war hurts all sides more than it helps,” Joachim Pfeiffer, economic policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told Handelsblatt. The 2013 row over Chinese solar panel imports to the bloc did a lot of damage to the European solar industry, he said.

Dieter Janecek, economic policy spokesman for the opposition Greens, said: “Punitive tariffs can only be the last resort.”

Ministers from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium and Luxembourg sent a joint letter to the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, on Friday. It said the bloc’s steel industry was suffering from “chronic use of unfair trade practices.”

“The European Union cannot remain passive when rising job losses and steelwork closures show that there is a significant and impending risk of collapse in the European steel sector,” the ministers wrote in the letter seen by Handelsblatt.

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