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US 232 could redirect 13 million mt of steel to Europe: EUROFER

London — As much as 13 million mt of steel could be redirected to the EuropeanUnion if the US applies its Section 232 tariff plan on the trading bloc,European Steel Association President Geert Van Poelvoorde said Monday.

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The European Commission "cannot sit still and not prepare," but must actto safeguard the domestic steel industry, Van Poelvoorde said at a pressconference, noting he hoped the EC can react with measures within a month.

"Europe will suffer through increased imports, or trade deflection, sinceit is a reasonable assumption that the imports deflected by the US will seek ahome in Europe," Van Poelvoorde said. The EU already saw 40 million mt ofimports land in 2017, which was a new peak. This is, in fact, higher than the35 million mt that arrived in the US. EUROFER estimates that section 232 couldlead to a further 13 million mt coming to Europe -- and this is a conservativeestimation."

EUROFER Director General Axel Eggert explained the calculation took intoaccount that the US imports 26 million mt of steel, excluding deliveries fromCanada and Mexico, which could be exempt from the tariffs.

"Most of that will have to look for new destinations, so we made anestimation that at least half of that will have to find a new market," Eggertsaid. "The EU is an open market, naturally the EU will be the next market. Itcould be 13 million mt, it could be eight million mt, either way it will becatastrophic."

While the calculations assume significant production increases in the USmarket, Van Poelvoorde pointed to the restarting of the US Steel blast furnacein Granite City, Illinois, as well as the new Nucor micro mill in Florida,both of which have happened prior to the tariffs even taking effect.

Eggert noted the recovery of the European steel industry has only lasteda year, and the possibility of a flood of exports would be "catastrophic."

"We cannot let President Trump destroy the moderate recovery we have," hesaid.

--Peter Brennan, peter.brennan@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com