CEA-PME and CONFAPI Meet With EU Policy-Makers to Discuss the Future of Steel Imports

On the 29th June 2018, CEA-PME European Entrepreneurs and its Italian member CONFAPI met with representatives of the European Commission and with Members of the European Parliament to discuss the future of stainless steel imports in the EU, an absolutely vital raw material for SMEs in Italy and in many other European countries.

The event took place in the framework of the recent developments in international trade: the EU was obliged to react on tariffs on metals imposed by the US administration. Following this choice and in light of an assumed wave of new imports from other countries to fill in the void left from the Americans, the European Commission has also proposed a safeguard clause to limit the imports from other third countries to prevent the local prices of European steel to drop too much in light of excessive steel imported from abroad.

This manoeuvre would however have the unfortunate consequence, in the case of stainless steel, to either keep the price too high or even raise it. That is because there are only four European producers which provide a material in a very high-demand market that they can't serve alone. By blocking imports, Europe would be stuck with an extremely high demand, specifically from transforming SMEs, and a more limited offer - consequently prices would stay very high. This might lead to a number of small and medium-sized going out of business, as they would not be able to afford the raw material needed to produce their refined products. Particularly so if faced by strong competition in the imports of finalised products, like cutlery, which imports would not be subject to the same limitations. This case was presented by Stefan Moritz, Managing Director of CEA-PME, Marco Mariotti, Vice-president of CONFAPI for its Brescia's branch, and Dr. Maria Emilia Garbelli, member of the CONFAPI Study Centre and lecturer in Economics at the Milan University Bicocca.

On the other side of the table the representatives of the European Commission showed great interest and, while explaining that they have to keep in mind the broader European interest, also expressed an appreciation of the case and invited CONFAPI to present a formal position in the consultations being done and that are part of the processes that will lead to the final decision on imports and the safeguard clause.

On the side of the European Parliament, MEP Salvatore Cicu (Forza Italia/ EPP) and MEP Patrizia Toia (Partito Democratico /S&D) attended the meeting while MEP Alessia Mosca (Forza Italia/ EPP) sent a member of her staff to attend. Mr. Cicu expressed his support to this cause, saying he will work to defend the interest of SMEs in the European institutions while Mrs. Toia agreed diminishing steel imports would indeed be very problematic for Italian and more broadly European SMEs and pledged to raise the sensitivities of his fellow MEPs about this issue in the relevant parliamentary committees.

Finally the meeting was also attended by representatives the Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU that took note about the case.

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