The European Commission published a regulation repealing anti dumping measures on certain iron and steel fasteners originating in China on 28thFebruary 2016. However, it is hardly a ‘green light’ to recommence importing from China as there is currently no indication if or when a new investigation could be initiated, and if so when and at what level new duties might be applied.
On Saturday 27th February the European Commission published Regulation EU 2016/278 in the Official Journal of the European Union, "repealing the definitive anti-dumping duty imposed on imports of certain iron or steel fasteners originating in the People's Republic of China, as extended to imports of certain iron or steel fasteners consigned from Malaysia, whether declared as originating in Malaysia or not".
The Regulation outlines the rulings against the EU by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and its Appellate Body, the latest and most critical of which was circulated on 18th January 2016.
The Regulation then simply states: "In view of the findings (of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body) the Commission considers that in accordance with Article 1(1)(a) of the WTO enabling Regulation it is appropriate to repeal the anti-dumping duties imposed by Regulation (EC) No 91/2009, as amended by Implementing Regulation (EU) No 924/2012 and maintained by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/519."
It also states clearly: "The repeal of the anti-dumping duties ...shall take effect from the date of the entry into force of this Regulation ... and shall not serve as a basis for the reimbursement of the duties collected prior to that date."
The Regulation came into force the day after publication in the Official Journal, removing anti dumping duties of up to 74.1% on 28th February 2016.
A full copy of the Regulation may be downloaded from the Official Journal in any of the twenty-four official languages of the EU. The English version is at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=OJ:JOL_2016_052_R_0012&from=EN
The repeal of the anti dumping measures does not, though, constitute an unqualified ‘green light’ for importers to recommence importing from China. Currently there is complete uncertainty over if and when new anti dumping, and potentially anti subsidy, investigations might be initiated – and when and at what level new duties may be applied.
European manufacturers are understandably aghast at the abrupt removal of what has been considered vital protection against low cost fasteners from China. It is possible for the European Commission to initiate a new investigation under its own initiative, although the signs are it will prefer to respond to the early lodging of a new complaint from European manufacturers, requesting the re-imposition of tariffs on the basis there is a threat of recurrence of dumping and injury. Evidence to the Expiry Review, which extended the anti dumping duties last year, argued strongly for their continuation to prevent such a threat.
Only if and when a new investigation is formally announced will it be possible to begin to estimate the potential timescale on which new duties could be applied. EU anti dumping law permits the application of provisional duties after 60 days and up to nine months from the date of initiation of an investigation. Definitive duties normally take up to 15 months to be confirmed but using a mechanism known as registration, details of imports can be recorded and used to apply definitive duties retroactively – up to 90 days prior to the date provisional duties were applied.
New anti dumping duties are unlikely to be at a similar level to those just repealed but, particularly if linked with anti subsidy duties, they may well be substantial and could more than offset the cost benefit of Chinese fasteners compared with other sources in Asia.