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EU escalates steel tube dispute with China

The EU has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to rule on Chinese anti-dumping duties imposed on European stainless steel seamless tubes. The escalation follows fruitless talks on a settlement of the dispute.

Following unsatisfactory talks with Beijing, the EU Commission announced Friday it would seek a ruling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its steel dispute with China.

China's punitive tariffs, ranging from 9.7 percent to 11 percent and imposed on EU-made steel products, were significantly hampering access to the Chinese market, said John Clancy, a spokesman for EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht.

"The EU continues its fight against unjustified Chinese trade defense measures which do not comply with WTO rules and often seem to be motivated by retaliation," he added.

In 2011, the EU imposed provisional duties on Chinese imports of certain seamless pipes and stainless steel tubes, accusing producers of price dumping.

As a result, China began investigating EU exports of stainless steel seamless tubes shortly thereafter, and imposed punitive tariffs in November 2012.

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Clancy said that, given the measure's obvious technical weaknesses, the EU's executive commission was confident that the WTO would support its claim against China's anti-dumping duties.

The Chinese duties reduced EU exports of stainless steel tubes to the Asian country from around 90 million euros ($120 million) in 2009 to below 20 million euros, according to latest EU figures.

The EU and China have been locked in trade disputes over a range of products for months. However, tensions appeared to have eased somewhat after the two sides agreed to settle a row over solar panels earlier in August.

uhe/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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