November 30, 2018 / 10:55 AM / 6 months ago

Factbox: Global steel trade barriers here to stay as U.S.-Sino tensions simmer

Workers inspect engine gears at a company under Dongbei Special Steel Group in Yantai, Shandong province, China November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. administration is moving to moderate its steel trade tariffs but countries in Europe and beyond are loath to lower protections for their steelmakers as long as U.S.-China trade tensions prevail.

Since slapping 25 percent tariffs on all U.S. steel imports in March, Washington has struck deals with countries including South Korea, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa to end the tariffs in exchange for import quotas.

The United States, the world’s biggest steel importer, is widely expected to sign similar deals with Canada and Mexico this year, and is in talks with India, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and the EU about tariff deals.

It has also granted thousands of tariff exemption requests from U.S. steel consumers.

Still, countries or regions with relatively open markets like Europe are scrambling to protect their steel industry, fearing more exports from China if its economy slows further as a result of the wider U.S.-Sino trade war.

Steel imports into Europe rose 10 percent in the third quarter even though the block slapped safeguard tariffs on imports of the metal in July to protect against redirected trade flows from the U.S. tariffs.

China accounts for about a fifth of the world's 460 million tonnes of steel exports and produces half the world's 1.6 billion tonnes of steel, a $900 billion strategic industry seen as critical for economic growth.

The global steel sector can little afford a surge in Chinese steel exports given it already has some 560 million tonnes of spare capacity, a figure that is expected to increase over the next two years just as demand growth ebbs.

Below is a list of key steel trade barriers, looming or current, put in place the world over since the U.S. tariff move.

Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Edmund Blair

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