26 Jul 2018

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has recently published its provisional conclusions about which EU trade remedy measures should be kept in place and reviewed once the UK introduces its own trade remedies framework. DIT has provisionally concluded that 72 of the 114 EU trade remedy measures it considered should be terminated. Businesses who disagree with the DIT's provisional conclusions have until 24 August 2018 to seek to persuade DIT to change its mind.

The EU Commission imposes trade remedy measures, such as anti-dumping duties, on goods which are imported into the EU at what are deemed to be artificially low prices. The aim of any anti-dumping duty is to protect EU manufacturers of competing goods from the harm that would be caused to them if such goods were allowed to be sold at artificially low prices in the EU.

Once the UK leaves the EU and any transitional period ends, it will need to have in place its own system of trade remedies to protect UK manufacturers from the harm that would otherwise be caused to them by unfair trade practices. In preparation for this, DIT has called on UK businesses to identify which of the existing EU trade remedy measures, which currently protect them from unfair trade practices by non-EU producers, should remain in place.

Many of the EU trade remedy measures which DIT proposes not to maintain relate to products originating from China. These include various aluminium goods, bicycles, coated paper, hand pallet trucks, low carbon ferro-chrome, and certain chemicals, to name but a few. 

Those EU trade remedy measures which DIT proposes to keep in place apply to products such as biodiesel (from a number of countries), ceramic tiles from China, grain orientated flat-rolled products of electrical steel (from a number of countries), rainbow trout from Turkey, and welded tubes and pipes of iron or non-alloy steel (from a number of countries), to name but a few.

Businesses in the UK which produce goods of a type that are the subject of existing EU trade remedy measures, should review DIT's provisional conclusions on those measures and if they disagree with DIT's proposed action, they need to provide DIT with the necessary evidence to seek to persuade DIT to change its position by 24 August 2018. DIT's provisional conclusions can be accessed here.

There are many uncertainties about the Brexit process but this is one area where the position is remarkably clear. Businesses in the UK which currently enjoy the protection afforded to them by existing EU trade remedy measures, will only have themselves to blame if they fail to engage with this DIT consultation on EU trade remedies.

Quite what trade remedies may ultimately be imposed by the UK under its own regime, on these or other goods imported into the UK post Brexit, is a matter for another day and another consultation. For now, UK businesses need to focus on the decisions they are currently being invited to influence.