Free and fair trade
Foreign trade is the cornerstone of the economic success of the steel industry in Germany. Furthermore, the sector is the most important supplier of materials for the very industries that are responsible for Germany’s strength as an export nation. Steel therefore also stands successful products – such as machines or cars – that are “Made in Germany”.
So it is all the more important to examine the current economic and political situation regarding foreign trade. The world’s steel market is characterised by massive overcapacities totalling several hundred million tonnes. Two-thirds of these overcapacities are to be found in China. Some nations opt for unfair methods, such as price dumping, in order to export their steel products to other countries. In addition, many countries put up protectionist trade barriers that provide their domestic industry with artifi cial competitive advantages.
Countries such as the USA have long been employing a wide range of measures to combat the massive increase in dumped exports. Europe, too, has not been inactive. The European steel industry has initiated trade defence actions which, however, are of limited effectiveness in international comparisons. The effective and consistent application of the trade defence instruments permitted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) must be a central component of European foreign trade policy. This is not a matter of protectionism, but restoring fair competitive conditions.
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