August 3, 2018 / 3:45 PM / in a year

Bosnia asks for exemption from EU's steel import quotas

Steel cables are seen at a steel factory in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia, a major Balkans steel exporter, asked on Friday to be exempted from the European Union’s steel import curbs, imposed in response to U.S. tariffs on incoming steel and aluminium.

Bosnia is concerned about the negative impact the EU trade measures may have on its metal industry, which dominates its exports. It exported steel worth 1.1 billion Bosnian marka (£501.51 million) to EU markets in the first half of 2018.

The EU’s executive Commission has launched a combination of quotas and tariffs to counter concerns that steel products no longer imported into the United States would instead flood European markets.

The quotas for 23 steel product categories have been set at the average of imports over the past three years, with a 25 percent tariff set for volumes exceeding those amounts. These quotas are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Bosnia is especially concerned for the fate of its largest steel exporter, the steel-making unit of ArcelorMittal, which accounts for 2.5 percent of the country’s GDP and employs about 3,000 people.

In a letter to the EU’s executive Commission, Bosnia’s Foreign Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic cited an analysis showing that Bosnia’s steel exports could not damage or disturb the EU steel market.

“We duly expect that the European Commission should make every effort in finding a suitable modality to exempt Bosnia from the implementation of temporary protection measures... and to prevent negative effects from them,” Sarovic said in the letter.

He said the Commission has overlooked the possibility that the measures may hit its partner countries in the western Balkans, who are all at different stages of integration with the bloc, and that the import curbs would violate the terms of its stabilisation and association process with Bosnia.

Sarovic, who had said Bosnia might be forced to introduce counter-measures on imports from the EU, said the country was prepared to take part in a hearing related to the EU trade measures scheduled in Brussels for Sept 12.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Jan Harvey

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