Trade: European Commission puts in place an import surveillance system for aluminium

The European Commission has introduced today a prior surveillance system for imports of aluminium products. In response to the new US import tax of 10% announced on 8 March and the potential diversion of trade to the EU market, this measure will allow the EU to closely monitor import trends in aluminium.

The products covered by the surveillance therefore mirror the products covered by the US measures. Surveillance has purely statistical purpose and does not affect trade flows. It will however allow the EU to anticipate any trade surges and, if necessary, allow the Commission to act in a timely and WTO-compatible manner to prevent economic damage for EU producers. Companies that intend to import into the EU aluminium products covered by the surveillance measures will now have to request an import license. The licence will be granted automatically whilst giving the Commission a better real-time overview of trade flows. A similar surveillance system has already been in place and proven useful for steel products. It was introduced in June 2016 in reaction to the global steel overcapacity situation. Thanks to the data collected through the import surveillance for steel, the Commission was able to open on 26 March an investigation that might lead to introduction of safeguard measures. If confirmed, this would be one of the three announced potential EU responses to the recent US import restrictions.