EU countries will discuss a European Commission (EC) proposal on Wednesday on the application of protective measures for steel imports to the EU, WindEurope announced in a statement on Tuesday.
"The EU will then vote on the measures, which aim to restrict steel imports from third countries to the EU until July 2021, on Friday," WindEurope said.
According to the statement, steel import restrictions to the EU arose in response to similar measures adopted by the Trump Administration in March 2018.
The EC applied a first set of safeguarding measures in July 2018 to shield the European steel industry from trade deflection from the U.S. The provisional measures were designed as a global tariff-rate quota.
"This meant 25 percent duties on steel imports apply once the EU exceeds conservative predefined steel import volumes," WindEurope underlined.
- 5% increase in non-tariff volumes insufficient for wind sector
The revised safeguard measures will now mean import volumes per steel category will increase by just 5 percent every year until 2021. Import volumes will be set based on a mixed system of global and country-specific tariff-rate quotas.
In a statement, WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said although the measures are a positive step for the EC to annually increase steel import volumes, the 5 percent increase is very low given that demand for steel in offshore wind alone will rise by 36 percent in 2019.
As a result, he said that if sectors have to pay tariffs on their steel imports, the price of wind energy would correspondingly increase.
"Steel makes up over half the material used in wind turbine production. Tariffs could add 18 percent to the price of turbines. This would offset the cost reductions we’ve achieved in recent years," he said, adding that achieving the EU’s 32 percent renewable energy target for 2030 would cost more than is necessary.
"We call on European countries and the Commission to agree a higher annual rate of increase in non-tariff volumes than the proposed 5 percent when they vote on Friday," he said.
In addition, he warned that it would put European turbine manufacturers at a disadvantage to Chinese competitors that source domestic steel at much lower prices.
By Gulsen Cagatay