Ahead of the European Commission’s decision on the imposition of provisional anti-dumping duties on the import of iron and steel fasteners originating in the People’s Republic of China, the European Fastener Distributor Association has highlighted the impact on an EU economy already threated by fastener shortages.
Dr Volker Lederer, president of the European Fastener Distributor Association (EFDA) comments: “With anti-dumping duties on Chinese fasteners, the supply of screws and other fasteners to the European economy could no longer be ensured. High capacity utilisation, raw material shortages and shipping problems have already thrown international supply chains into unprecedented chaos, making it impossible for European fastener distributors to supply European industry, trade and crafts with fasteners in time. Under these exceptional circumstances, the European Union would create the ‘perfect storm’ if it were to impose additional duties on the import of iron and steel fasteners from the People's Republic of China”.
On 21st December 2020, the European Commission initiated anti-dumping investigation concerning imports of iron and steel fasteners from the People's Republic of China (AD676). At the end of the procedure, protective duties on fasteners could be imposed, as was already the case from 2009 to 2016. “At that time, tariffs on Chinese goods of up to 85% brought trade with China to a complete standstill,” states Dr Lederer. “Although the WTO declared the EU measures illegal in 2016, the damage to the domestic economy was there. European fastener manufacturers did not take any measures to significantly increase the production of so-called standard parts. They rely on high-quality special parts for the European automotive industry. Standard parts have to be bought from the Far East and other parts of the world.”
Dr Lederer continues: “Within the next few weeks, the EU Commission will decide whether to impose provisional duties in the summer, i.e. already during the investigation procedure. To do so, it is seeking the vote of EU member states. However, the global market for fasteners is upside down. Delivery times for fasteners have doubled and even tripled since the beginning of the year, reaching up to twelve months. There are no alternatives to China in Asia or Europe. In other East Asian markets like Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam, capacities are exhausted as US companies claimed resources here a few years ago in response to the Trump administration's protective tariffs on Chinese imports.”
“Pandemic travel restrictions make it impossible for European importers to conduct the visits and audits required for new suppliers. Raw material shortages, such as steel or wire rod, are exacerbating the supply problems. The continuing global logistics problems in maritime shipping with container shortages and the effects of the crisis at the Suez Canal mean that what little is available can only reach Europe with significant delays and extra costs. Purchasing in Europe is also ruled out as an alternative. European manufacturers are not having any free capacities and would never be able, nor willing, to produce the quantities of standard fasteners necessary to satisfy the demand of European industry.”
“European fastener distributors supply the European industry with an extensive range of standard and special parts and ensure that the products are available in the right place at the right time. Major customers include manufacturers in the automotive, machine building, construction, wind energy, agriculture, furniture, craft and DIY sectors. For these manufacturers the permanent availability of standard parts is indispensable so that their products can continue to be manufactured in Europe and successfully sold on world markets. Therefore Europe must now do everything possible to ensure the global competitiveness of its industry and not to unnecessarily complicate its supply with indispensable primary products like fasteners. To recover from the Covid-19 crisis and in order to avoid breakdowns of productions lines in Europe, the European economy needs the capacity of the entire Asian procurement market – including China. With anti-dumping duties, the EU would ‘put a spoke in the wheel’ of EU recovery,” concludes Dr Lederer.
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
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