Industry protests against dumping of Chinese products


Local industry is accusing the Chinese of dumping low-cost products on Europe to break into the market, which is against EU law

5,000 strong in Brussels

Some 5,000 representatives from a wide range of industrial sectors gathered in Brussels yesterday to protest at what they claim is dumping on the European market of industrial products by the Chinese. Exceptionally, the protest saw unions and employers protesting together.

In European law, dumping is the term used when a trading partner from outside the EU is found to be selling goods or services at an unreasonably low price, a practice intended to compete unfairly with European businesses and obtain market share. Dumping is against EU law, and the European Commission can take action by applying a tariff to bring the price of the dumped goods up to a competitive level.

Steel is one of the most serious cases of Chinese dumping, but other sectors are also affected. “It wasn’t hard to get together all of these people – workers and employers – from about 30 sectors in 20 countries,” said Geert Van Poelvoorde, the Flemish head of the steel industry federation Eurofer. “We’ve in favour of free trade, but it has to be fair trade.”

Industry in Europe fears that the EU is on the brink of designating China as a market economy, which would make it impossible to combat dumping. “If Europe decides to do that, then it’s all over for the anti-dumping regulation, and it’s all over for industry in Europe,” Van Poelvoorde said. The steel sector in Europe employs 300,000 people directly, and three times as many indirectly.

“According to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, that designation could threaten 3.5 million jobs in Europe and cut €228 billion from European GDP,” said Milan Nitzschke, spokesperson for the umbrella organisation Aegis Europe, which represents a wide range of sectors.

The demonstration caused some traffic disruption, with police advising motorists to switch to public transport. At the time of the march, city-bound tunnels in the area were closed.

Photo: Wiktor Dabkowski/dpa/Corbis