Fabian Demicoli

EU Trade Defence Modernisation:Importers’ perspective key for balanced results

The European Commission published its
proposals for modernised Trade Defence Instruments. After the failure of a
similar, more controversial exercise in 2007, there is now an opportunity to
reconcile importers' and producers' interests in a mutually acceptable way.

Intended to help domestic
manufacturers, antidumping duties cause considerable damage to EU importers. To
improve the system, it is essential to consider traders' needs properly.

Proposals are a moderate package that
will please no economic operator entirely. But, with some amendments, it could
well pave the way for a viable compromise to be agreed with the Parliament and
the Member States.

Importers need predictability. They
need to calculate price, quality and quantity in due time. Orders are binding
and paid for a long time in advance. A shipment clause covering average
transport times would mitigate the loss of planning certainty incurred by EU
trade defence.

The new guidelines on the Union
Interest Test (to ensure the respect of overall economic interests in the EU –
importers, manufacturers, consumers) and three other procedural issues are an
important contribution to more legal certainty. However, they still need to
better reflect the reality of an importer's business. The consultation launched
today is a good opportunity to get this right.

Finally, optimised rules for reviews
and refunds, an upgraded helpdesk for SMEs and facilitated cooperation for
importers are helpful additional proposals contained in the package. On the
negative side, the Commission intends to water down the lesser duty rule and to
initiate trade defence investigations ex
officio.

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