Foreign Minister Gabriel issued the following statement today (31 March) on the United States anti‑dumping investigation against German steel companies:
I very much fail to comprehend the decision taken by the United States Department of Commerce in connection with its anti‑dumping investigation concerning Salzgitter AG and Dillinger Hütte. Despite all of our efforts and repeated interventions by the European Union, the United States Department of Commerce has used calculation methods that run counter to WTO agreements, for the purpose of harming the US’s competitors in the steel sector. The intention is to protect the US steel industry by creating disadvantages for the stronger German steel industry.
This decision is all the more significant because it is the first anti‑dumping investigation in the steel sector conducted by the new US administration. The US Government is apparently prepared to provide American companies with unfair competitive advantages over European and other producers, even if such action violates international trade law.
WTO rules are the backbone of the international trade system. Knowingly breaching them is a dangerous step. It is the first time the US is, in the context of such an investigation, resorting to methods that distort competition and are not in line with WTO rules. We Europeans cannot accept this. The EU must now consider whether it, too, will lodge a complaint with the WTO. I strongly support this. We must take a decisive stance vis‑à‑vis the United States, in defence of fair competition and against creative accounting practices that disadvantage our German steel industry, which is hard‑working and produces exceptionally high quality products, making it very competitive on the international market. If the US effort to force through unfair competition were to succeed, the same development may also occur in other industrial sectors.
On 30 March, the United States Department of Commerce concluded its anti dumping investigation, finding producers in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Germany (Salzgitter AG in Lower Saxony and Dillinger Hütte in Saarland) to have dumped steel plate and thereby also setting final duty rates for these exporters. Both Germany and European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström had intervened prior to this decision, demanding that established WTO rules and standards be adhered to. The United States Department of Commerce chose to use different calculation methods. The affected companies may now take their case to court.