BRUSSELS/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The European Commission has launched an anti-dumping investigation into allegations China and Russia have been selling a type of steel below market cost on the EU market, it said on Thursday in an official announcement.
The investigation follows a complaint in April from Eurofer, the European steel association, which said Russia and China were dumping cold-rolled flat steel products -- used in cars and home appliances -- on the EU market “causing material injury” to the EU industry.
If following its investigation the Commission finds that the allegations are true, it can impose duties.
The latest batch of duties was announced on Wednesday when the Commission said the EU was imposing anti-dumping duties on imports of a grade of electrical steel from China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, the second set of measures this year to protect EU steelmakers.
Eurofer says dumped imports have damaged EU industry by driving prices to below the costs of production, causing substantial losses.
China’s steel exports rose 32.7 percent in the first four months of 2015 after reaching record levels over the course of last year, with overseas markets offering a lifeline to steelmakers struggling with faltering domestic demand.
Shen Danyang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, told a press briefing on Friday that the surge in Chinese steel product exports was “normal and also beyond reproach”, and reflected a rise in demand as well as the strong competitiveness of domestic steelmakers.
“Whether it is the United States or other countries, we want to express our opposition to using the rapid increase in Chinese steel product exports as a reason to prepare a series of trade measures,” he said.
Spokespeople for two of Russia’s largest steel companies said they had not been exporting excessive volumes or undercutting the market.
A spokeswoman for Severstal (CHMF.MM), said it exported in full compliance with international trade rules.
“The European market is important to Severstal and we therefore plan to take an active part in the investigation, proving the absence of dumping and any injury to domestic producers from our supply chain.”
A spokesman for another Russian steel company Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK.MM) said he was certain the firm was not guilty of dumping.
Industry sources in Moscow said Russian companies exported about 724,000 tonnes of cold-rolled steel to the European Union in 2014, compared to 727 tonnes in 2013.
Reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels, Jack Stubbs and Svetlana Burmistrova in Moscow and David Stanway in Beijing; Editing by Susan Thomas and Michael Perry