Last year saw a variety of protectionist sentiments around the globe. Taking into account that trade defence remedies are protectionist measures directly allowed in the WTO, naturally enough 2019 demonstrated growth in different investigations and applied remedies. In this article, our aim is to focus on the hottest issues in the field of trade defence remedies.
Statistics on trade defence measures
According to official statistics provided by the WTO Committee on anti-dumping practices, in 2018, WTO members introduced 203 anti-dumping measures, which is by far the largest number of such measures during the last 15 years. In the first half of 2019, WTO members reported 82 new anti-dumping measures, the final number for the year is likely to increase.
The number of countervailing measures rose significantly in 2018 when WTO members initiated 55 new investigations and introduced 28 new measures. These are record figures for the WTO since 1995. WTO members reported 18 new countervailing measures for the first half of 2019.
In 2019, WTO members reported 13 new safeguard measures, which is the largest number since 2003. Furthermore, in 2019 WTO members reported 30 new safeguard investigations (the largest number since 2002).
These global statistics lead to the conclusion that countries more often revert to trade defence measures in order to protect domestic markets and local producers from imports. This trend is likely to continue in 2020 when most countries face serious economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, downturn on financial markets, and price declines on raw material markets.
Global safeguard measures against steel in 2019
On 8 March 2018, the USA imposed additional duties of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum imports. Other countries responded in 2019 with safeguard measures to protect local producers.
Definitive safeguard measures were imposed by the European Union against 28 product categories. Notably, 12 out of 28 categories of Ukrainian products have been excluded from definitive measures. Canada imposed safeguard measures on imports of heavy plate and stainless-steel wire. Notably, some products were excluded from investigation, while the Canadian government announced a refund of previously paid provisional safeguard duties. The Eurasian Economic Union imposed a safeguard measure against imports of hot-rolled products. Cold-rolled products and coated products were excluded from the scope of the measure. Safeguard measures were also imposed by certain other countries.
Unlike the USA, other countries introducing safeguard measures on steel followed the procedure envisaged by the WTO Agreement on Safeguards. On the contrary, the USA claims its steel and aluminum measures to be beyond the scope of WTO regulation and does not regard them to be safeguard measures per se. This approach was largely criticized by the WTO community and entailed several disputes raised against the USA in the WTO dispute settlement system. Though the USA managed to find mutually agreeable solutions on this matter with a number of states, other disputes are at the active stage and we are likely to see their outcome in 2020.
Statistics on trade defence measures in Ukraine
2019 was quite a productive year for trade remedies in Ukraine. During the year, Ukraine applied 7 new anti-dumping duties, namely on rods from Belarus and Moldova, bearings from Kazakhstan, rolled steel from Russia and China, cement from Russia, Belarus and Moldova, salt from Belarus, incandescent lamps from Belarus, and medical rubber corks from Poland and China. Two other anti-dumping duties, on aerated concrete blocks from Belarus and steel ropes from Russia, were imposed in early 2020. An- ti-dumping measures on medical glass bottles and incandescent lamps from China, as well as safeguard measures on polyurethane foam, were extended.
In 2019, Ukraine also initiated a number of new investigations and reviews: anti-dumping investigations on the import of steel ropes from Russia, aerated concrete blocks from Belarus, aluminum car wheels from China, matches from Belarus and Russia, steel fasteners from China, sunset reviews of anti-dumping measures on ammonium nitrate from Russia, iron non-isolated products from China, railroad switches from China, seamless steel pipes from China, special investigations on nitrogen fertilizers, complex fertilizers, syringes, review of safeguard measures on polyurethane foam.
An anti-dumping investigation into the import of syringes from India, Turkey and China ended without measures being taken.
Legal issues in trade defence legislation
In 2019, Ukrainian courts reached several important conclusions which throw light on the way in which courts treat certain provisions of trade defence legislation:
Draft laws on trade remedies
On 7 March 2018, the Ukrainian government submitted three new draft laws regarding trade remedies to the Ukrainian Parliament. However, in 2019 these draft laws were revoked. The effective laws on trade remedies were adopted as early as 1998 and have been only subject to a few amendments since that time. The effective legislation lacks modern instruments, practices and approaches used by foreign investigation authorities. It is reported that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is developing new draft laws on trade remedies. However, the timing of their adoption is unclear.