Fastener trading tensions tighten between EU and US

Today marks the enactment of new measures from the European Commission that will impose extra duty on steel and aluminium products from the US.

Products that will be slapped with the 25% levy will include certain self-tapping screws, blind rivet nuts, self-locking nuts and more. You can find the full list and details here.

The ‘rebalancing’ measures come in retaliation to North America’s imposition of extra duties on imports of steel (25%) and aluminium (10%) from the EU.

“We did not want to be in this position,” said Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. “However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the US to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice. The rules of international trade, which we have developed over the years hand in hand with our American partners, cannot be violated without a reaction from our side. Our response is measured, proportionate and fully in line with WTO rules. Needless to say, if the US removes its tariffs, our measures will also be removed.”

The EU said the value of its steel and aluminium exports affected by the US measures is €6.4 billion. Of this amount, the EU will rebalance on €2.8 billion worth of exports immediately. The remaining rebalancing on trade valued at €3.6 billion will take place at a later stage – in three years’ time or after a positive finding in WTO dispute settlement if that should come sooner, the Commission said.

The measures will remain in place “for as long as the US measures are in place”, the EU said.

In March 2018, US President Trump signed an order to impose 25% tariffs on steel and aluminium from all other countries, including the EU. The move follows a report by North America’s Department of Commerce which  found that the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminium imports ‘threatened to impair the national security’, as defined by Section 232.

There’s more background in our story from March.

“Würth returns when he goes”

Meanwhile, Germany’s Würth Group has revealed it is reluctant to invest further in the US while President Trump is in office (reported by Bild am Sonntag, via Fastener News Desk).

While the huge fastener and assembly business does € 1.8 billion sales in North America, Group head Dr Reinhold Würth said: “We’ll wait and see if President Trump is re-elected in four years. Würth returns when he goes.”

The “general, uncertain political situation” in the US under Trump was reportedly a key reason behind the strategy.