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EU curbs No Swiss exemption from EU steel import cap

steel coils in a VW factory

A Volkswagen employee maneuvers a steel coil in a factory in Emden, Germany


The European Union is imposing limits on steel coming into the bloc from Saturday in response to US President Donald Trump’s metals tariffs. The measures will also affect Swiss steel exports to the EU. 

The EU said on Fridayexternal link that it is introducing new measures to prevent steel produced for the US market from flooding into Europe instead because of tariffs introduced by Trump. 

There will be specific limits for major exporting countries and the quotas will apply for three-month periods to limit stockpiling. The main exporters of steel to the EU are China, India, Russia, South Korea, Turkey and Ukraine.

The measures concern 26 steel product categories, with quotas set at the average of imports over the period 2015-2017, plus 5%. Once these quotas are filled, 25% tariffs apply. They will replace provisional measures imposed in July. 

The EU will exclude some developing nations, South Africa and the countries of the European Economic Area, notably Norway, from its quotas.

However, Switzerland, which is home to steel company Schmolz & Bickenbach, will be included despite its close ties to the bloc.

Switzerland said country-specific quotas should at least prevent a repeat of the situation in December, when global quotas were filled, forcing some Swiss firms to halt deliveries to Europe. But it is still pushing for an exemption. 

The steel industries in Switzerland and the EU are highly integrated: 98% of Switzerland's steel imports come from the EU and 95% of Swiss steel exports go to the EU.

“Many Swiss companies deliver their products on a just-in-time basis to the value chains of major European industries, such as the automotive industry,” the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said in a statement on Fridayexternal link.

“The EU's safeguard measures harm the interests of the Swiss steel industry by hindering the free movement of goods between the EU and Switzerland.”

Keystone SDA/Reuters/sb

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