EU plans probe of China electrode pricing -sources

BRUSSELS, Nov 30 (BestGrowthStock) – The European Union’s executive
wants to investigate imports of Chinese electrodes used in
Europe’s furnaces to smelt and recycle steel, a move that could
raise EU import tariffs and anger steel firms looking for cheap
access to the electrodes, EU diplomats said on Tuesday.

Plans for an investigation follow a complaint by the
European Carbon and Graphite Association that Chinese exporters
are dumping graphite electrode systems on the EU market at less
than half their production price, EU diplomats say.

“The Commission has just informed us of the complaint, which
they received in early November,” said one EU diplomat.

The European Commission must start or call off the
investigation by Dec. 18. If it finds evidence of illegal
dumping by Chinese exporters it could hike EU import duties for
several years from the second half of 2011.

The investigation is likely to rile European steel giants
such as ThyssenKrupp (TKAG.DE: ) and ArcelorMittal (ISPA.AS: ),
which have been lobbying for cheaper access to the electrodes.

Italy — home of troubled steelmaker Lucchini Group, which
was recently sold by Russian giant Severstal (CHMF.MM: ) — has
asked for a suspension of all import duties on graphite
electrodes to help its steel sector. [ID:nLDE66Q249]

It is also likely to stir accusations that Europe is
sabotaging its own initiatives that encourage steel recycling
for environmental and resource-efficiency reasons.

“There will always be someone who is unhappy with a case
like this, but the job of the Commission is to defend industry
against unfair practices,” said a person close to the case.

Electrodes carry the electricity that heats arc furnaces
used for smelting steel, particularly steel scraps for
recycling.

EU governments have several days to comment on the planned
investigation. A majority of EU member states are expected to
back an investigation, EU diplomats said.

Europe recently decided to prolong protective duties against
the same product from India.
(Reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, Editing by Luke
Baker)

EU plans probe of China electrode pricing -sources