Several members said they believed overcapacity in the steel sector and the resulting distortions in steel trade were triggering an increase in the initiation of safeguard and anti-dumping investigations on steel products. One member said 41 new anti-dumping investigations targeting steel imports were triggered in 2015 compared to 23 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. In addition, the member cited serious concern with the growing number of safeguard measures targeting steel imports over recent years.
Concerns were also expressed about the absence of information regarding government subsidy programmes in general as well as subsidy programmes provided to steel producers. Many members observed that compliance with the obligation to notify specific subsidies was low and declining, and that this was a major systemic problem for the operation of the Subsidies Agreement.
The comments were made at a 25 April meeting of the WTO's Committee on Safeguards, a 26-27 April meeting of the Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and a 27 April meeting of the Committee on Anti-dumping Practices.
Temporary measures shielding local producers from surging imports or "unfairly-traded" imports are permitted provided that they are justified by investigations showing possible harm to the producers as a direct result of the imports. The investigations must be carried out in accordance with disciplines established under the WTO's Agreement on Safeguards, the Agreement on Anti-Dumping (ADA), and the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement).
Members are obliged to notify the WTO about safeguard, anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations and measures. In addition, members must notify the WTO every second year of subsidy programmes they have in place which meet the definition of a subsidy under Article 1:1 and are "specific" within the meaning of Article 2 of the SCM Agreement.
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