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EU to impose provisional safeguards on steel imports from Thursday

London — The European Commission as expected has announced its provisional safeguard measures on 23 categories of imported steel products in response to recently imposed US tariffs to curb diversion of steel from third countries to the EU, according to an official EC statement issued Wednesday.

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The safeguard measures will come into effect on Thursday and can remain in place for a maximum of 200 days.

According to the EC note, they will take the form of a tariff rate quota. For each of the 23 categories, tariffs of 25% will only be imposed once imports exceed the average of imports over the last three years.

The quota is allocated on a first-come-first serve basis and at this stage not allocated by individual country.

The measures are imposed against all countries, with the exception of some developing countries with limited exports to the EU.

Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are also exempted given the close economic links between the EU and the European Economic Area.

The exclusions are compatible with both the EU's bilateral and multilateral Word Trade Organization obligations.

According to the note, all interested parties will now have the opportunity to comment on the findings of the investigation so far with the EC which will take the comments into account in reaching its final conclusion by early 2019 at the latest.

If all the conditions are met, definitive safeguard measures may be imposed.

"The US tariffs on steel products are causing trade diversion, which may result in serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers in this industry. We are left with no other choice than to introduce provisional safeguard measures to protect our domestic industry against a surge of imports. These measures nevertheless ensure that the EU market remains open, and will maintain traditional trade flows," Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said.

According to the note, the EC received overwhelming support for these measures from the EU Member States.

The adoption of the measures follows the initiation of an investigation on March 26. This investigation covered 28 product categories.

Imports of 23 categories if steel were found to have increased in the last few years.

The 25% tariff has been calculated by using an economic so-called partial-equilibrium model which is a standard tool for trade policy analysis by investigating authorities, including the EC.

--Annalisa Villa, annalisa.villa@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com