MEPs call for tougher measures against unfair imports from third countries 

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The EU should raise anti-dumping tariffs against dumped or subsidized imports from third countries and do much more to help small firms to take advantage of EU measures to combat them, say MEPs in amendments, voted Wednesday, to plans to update EU “trade defence instruments”. MEPs also passed amendments calling for tougher tariffs against environmental or social dumping, and against dumping assisted by third country export subsidies.

"We've been reviewing the most controversial part of the EU trade policy - trade defence instruments - which normally take the form of anti-dumping tariffs. High-profile cases such as the 47% anti-dumping duty on imported Chinese solar panels are pushing this review ever higher up the political agenda. We have struck good compromises in most cases, from transparency to more scrutiny rights for  Parliament, and have also substantially improved help for small firms", said rapporteur Christofer Fjellner (EPP, SV).

Small firms should benefit from EU trade defence tools

MEPs point out that the complexity and expense of initiating anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations tend to make them the preserve of big-industry players. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by contrast, are disadvantaged in their access to EU trade defence tools. They suggest giving an SME help desk the task of helping SMEs to file complaints and providing guidance in investigation proceedings. The desk could even help business sectors consisting largely of SMEs to put together the initial evidence of economic injury needed to justify launching an anti-dumping investigation. They add that for sectors largely made up of SMEs, it should be possible to impose higher duties on imports of dumped or subsidized goods.

No prior notice of investigations

MEPs voted to delete a proposal that EU importers and the exporting third countries should be notified two weeks before the EU plans to impose provisional anti-dumping duties. The Commission proposed this notification to make sure that already shipped imports are not hit, but MEPs countered that it could encourage stockpiling of dumped goods and politicize the trade relationship.

Social and environmental dumping should count

MEPs suggest that the EU should change the rules to allow it to impose stiffer duties on dumped or subsidized imported goods if the exporting third country “does not have a sufficient level of social and environmental standards”, judged on the basis of environmental and labour rights conventions. At the same time, the EU should impose more moderate duties (by applying a “lesser duty rule”) when the subsidized imports come from a least-developed country wishing to pursue its “legitimate development goals”.

Background: trade defence reform

The current EU trade defence law dates back to 1995. Since then the EU’s trade relations with third countries have changed substantially and the value chain has become much more global. The proposed overhaul aims to make EU trade defence law more effective, adapt it to today’s challenges and trade patterns and also increase transparency and predictability.

Most anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases launched by the EU have been against China.

Next steps

MEPs will enter into legislative negotiations with the Council, in order to reach a first reading agreement. The aim will be to agree on the new law before the end of the current legislative term.

Procedure:  Co-decision, first reading (vote on amendments/mandate only)