Indonesia turns to WTO over EU steel tariffs dispute

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Indonesia has blamed EU anti-dumping tariffs for a sharp fall in its steel exports as it asks the WTO to rule on the legality of the duties.

The Indonesian government has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene in an ongoing dispute with the EU over steel subsidies that it claims are harming the country's exports.

Jakarta requested consultations from the WTO's resolution body last week regarding anti-dumping duties imposed by Brussels on steel products, with the nation alleging they amount to illegal tariffs that have had a significant impact on its exports.

Senior trade ministry official Djatmiko Bris Witjaksono told Reuters: "The EU policy is not in line with WTO rules. Indonesian exports to the EU were around half a billion dollars and these [tariffs] have reduced the competitiveness of Indonesian products."

Under the tariffs, which were imposed by the EU last year, importers of Indonesian stainless steel cold-rolled flat products are required to pay an additional 21 percent in duties on arrival in the EU. This is in addition to previous tariffs of between 10.2 percent and 20.2 percent that were put in place in November 2021, again using anti-dumping legislation.

The EU Commission has claimed the bloc imposed the tariffs "to counter unfair state-sponsored subsidies", which it said involved preferred financing from China.

Mr Witjaksono added that after the first round of tariffs, Indonesia's shipments of steel to the EU dropped to around $229 million in 2021. Following the additional duties added in 2022, they shrank further to around $40 million between January and November of last year, he continued.

This is not the first dispute between the two parties relating to metal imports that the WTO's resolution body has been asked to weigh in on. Last year, the organization ruled in favor of the EU after Jakarta banned exports of unprocessed nickel ore from 2020.

The Indonesian government stated this was done in order to attract investment into its domestic metals processing industry and is appealing the decision.