Exclusive: EU to seek WTO ruling against Chinese steel duties - sources

Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:14am EDT
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By Ethan Bilby

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union plans to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Chinese duties on steel tubes used in power plants, EU sources said on Tuesday, opening another front in a rapidly escalating trade conflict with Beijing.

The move will allow the EU to join a related complaint filed by Japan against Chinese duties in December.

The EU complaint would seek to overturn duties on exports to China of seamless stainless steel tubes made by firms such as Spain's Tubacex S.A TUBA.MC and Germany's Salzgitter A.G (SZGG.DE: Quote), the sources said.

The filing, which may come as soon as Thursday or Friday, will send a signal to China that the EU is willing to take legal action against duties it considers to be based on retaliation rather than objective evidence.

China first announced the plan to impose the duties in early September 2011, just weeks after the EU slapped similar duties on Chinese-made stainless steel pipes and tubes in June.

China's Mission to the EU had no immediate comment.

The move follows China's decision last week to investigate alleged dumping of EU wine in apparent retort to the EU imposing provisional duties on Chinese solar panels, the biggest trade case the EU has launched.

WTO rules prevent members from leveling tit-for-tat sanctions, instead requiring proof assembled via a thorough investigation that a country's industry has suffered damage before any duties can be imposed.   Continued...

A steel-worker is pictured at a furnace at the plant of German steel company Salzgitter AG in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony on March 21, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer