On March 26, 2018, the European Commission launched a safeguard proceeding against imports into the EU of a wide range of steel products in 26 different categories. Per the Notice of Initiation, the proceeding is intended to counter the threat of trade diversion by exporting producers from various countries now subject to the Section 232 national security tariff of 25 percent on imports of steel into the U.S.

Since March 2016, the EU has maintained a surveillance system for steel imports. The system has provided recent evidence imports of certain steel products are increasing. This development may be further exacerbated as third-country producers are now likely to redirect to other markets, and especially the EU, an amount of their exports originally destined for the U.S.

In accordance with the rules of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, the EU proceeding covers the products concerned from all origins. If upon conclusion of the proceeding in 9 months it is deemed necessary to protect EU steel producers from a surge in imports, the EU may impose import tariffs or quotas. In the meantime, the EU also has the option to impose provisional measures if EU steel producers are deemed to merit immediate protection from a surge in imports.

According to the Notice, in order to obtain the information needed for its investigation, the Commission will “send questionnaires to the known producers of the like or directly competing products and to any known associations of producers, in the Union. The completed questionnaires must reach the Commission within 21 days from the date on which they are sent.”

Also, “All interested parties including exporting producers, importers and users of the products concerned and their associations are invited to make known their views in writing, submit information and to provide supporting evidence. Representations in a free format should be submitted within 21 days of the date of publication of this Notice in the Official Journal of the European Union [April 16, 2018]. Interested parties may make themselves known by contacting the Commission, preferably by email, immediately but no later than 15 days after the publication of this Notice in the Official Journal of the European Union, and request a questionnaire [April 10, 2018]. The completed questionnaire should be submitted within 21 days from the date on which they are sent.”