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Steel workers protest against cheap Chinese imports

Published 15/02/2016

Polish steel workers wave flags as they participate in a demonstration around the European quarter of Brussels (AP)
Polish steel workers wave flags as they participate in a demonstration around the European quarter of Brussels (AP)

Steel company managers have joined thousands of their employees from across the European Union (EU) in Brussels to protest against the import of cheap Chinese products.

The European steel industry is accusing China of illegal export subsidies and selling products below production cost, all of which contributes to the crisis in the European steel sector.

With whistles and firecrackers, the workers ringed some of the EU institutions to push their demands to keep Chinese steel at bay.

The industry argued that if the EU recognises China as a market economy, a status that would allow for even more imports, it would cost tens of thousands of jobs.

"Everybody understands that there is a high need to act," said Geert Van Poelvoorde, president of the Eurofer industry group, which was behind the march.

The EU currently has 37 trade and legal actions going to make sure that steel imports are fair and provide for a level playing field, something which is especially critical in an age of overproduction and dumping into the European markets.

If China is given the recognition of a market economy, it would become even more difficult to take action against trade which is deemed unfair.

The European steel sector employs some 330,000 people but the industry says hundreds of thousands of jobs are also at risk in the ceramics, glass, solar panels and other sectors.

The Aegis alliance of major European industries says three-quarters of all EU anti-dumping measures involve China and that the complaints about Beijing are only increasing.

"Market economy status to China would be a full licence to dump whenever and in every sector China wants to do it," said Aegis spokesman Milan Nitzschke said.

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