x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US imposes tariffs on pipes from Emirates

UAE steel makers have become the latest industry to be hit by a growing wave of anti-dumping action by governments around the world.

The US commerce department on Tuesday set final tariff rates on steel pipes from the UAE, alleging that they are being sold in the country below fair value. Sammy Dallal / The National
The US commerce department on Tuesday set final tariff rates on steel pipes from the UAE, alleging that they are being sold in the country below fair value. Sammy Dallal / The National

UAE steel makers have become the latest industry to be hit by a growing wave of anti-dumping action by governments around the world.

The US commerce department on Tuesday set final tariff rates on steel pipes from the UAE, alleging that they are being sold in the country below fair value.

The US set similar tariffs on pipes from India, Vietnam and Oman for the same reason. Before the final duties can come into effect, the independent US international trade commission has to decide whether producers in the United States are being harmed by the imports.

The move comes as the UAE battles against a rise in anti-dumping probes and duties imposed against exports of the country's goods. Governments from the US, Canada, Brazil, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt have targeted UAE exporters in recent months.

UAE officials have denied US allegations that its steel producers receive government subsidies that break World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The Ministry of Economy, which is in charge of responding to anti-dumping actions against UAE goods, says they pose a risk to the push to build non-oil trade.

"Exports of national products of high quality and competitive price have increased to many international markets. This expansion increases the risk of protectionist measures against them," said Abdullah Sultan Shamsi, the leader of the industrial affairs department at the Ministry of Economy.

Officials say they are considering all options to respond to the action, including the possibility of raising an appeal with the WTO.

Protectionist measures, such as duties imposed against cheap imports, have risen globally this year, Pascal Lamy, the WTO director general, warned last month. Industry observers cite a sluggish outlook for trade, high unemployment in developed markets and slowing growth in emerging markets as likely drivers of the trend.

The UAE has been caught up in several disputes. A US trade panel in April approved duties ranging from 2.8 per cent to almost 185 per cent on steel nails from the UAE.

The latest action by the US commerce department is the outcome of a 12-month investigation into complaints by several US steel producers that exporters of circular welded carbon-quality steel pipes from the UAE, Oman, India and Vietnam were competing unfairly due to subsidies received from their governments.

In May, the US set preliminary tariffs of 11.7 per cent against such products from Abu Dhabi Metal Pipes & Profiles Industries. Preliminary tariffs of 3.29 per cent were set against Universal Tube and Plastic Industries, a producer based in Dubai, and all other exporters of the goods. Nobody was available to comment from those companies.

Exports of UAE steel pipes to the US more than doubled to US$53.9 million (Dh197.9m) last year from $26.3m the previous year.

Asim Siddiqui, the managing director of Age Group, a privately owned steel producer, said his company was unaffected by the decision. It exports primarily to the GCC and North Africa.

"We do not receive subsidies and I'm unaware of any subsidy support for private sector steel companies in the UAE," he said.

The Ministry of Economy is fighting similar allegations from Canada. Officials last month met the Canada Border Services Agency following complaints about the pricing of UAE steel exports. Jordan's government has also investigated the price of rebar from the country.

tarnold@thenational.ae