Thousands of European steelmakers marched on Brussels on Monday to demand more action from officials against the flood of cheap imports from China.
Police said about 5,200 protesters circled the European Union’s headquarters demanding that China be denied market-economy status, an official designation that would make it harder to raise barriers against cheap Chinese steel products, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Say ‘no’ to MES for China,” said a banner carried by steelworkers dressed in hardhats and fluorescent uniforms, referring to the market economy status long denied Beijing.
A change of status for China, which joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, would put it on a par with its major trading partners, the news agency said.
Without the market economy status, the WTO’s 162 member countries are much freer to slap anti-dumping measures on cheap Chinese products.
The Unites States and Canada are determined to continue denying China the designation, but fears are that Europe may forge ahead in an effort to avoid angering Chinese authorities.
Europe’s struggling steel sector accounts for 11 percent of the world’s total output and employs about one million people.
“If surrendered, China MES could cost the EU millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of euros in lost growth,” said a statement by AEGIS, a lobby grouping several industries that would be affected by the change in status.
“We are calling on EU leaders to deny Market Economy Status to China, as it simply is not yet a market economy,” it added.
The European Commission, which handles trade matters for the EU’s 28 member states, has until the end of the year to make a decision.
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