Brussels accused of secret trade shift

Mandelson denies cut in anti-dumping defense

Ten industry groups complain to Barroso


European companies are being-exposed to cut-price dumping by foreign rivals because of a secret change in trade policy in Brus­sels, 10 big industries have claimed.

Peter Mandelson, European Union trade commissioner, has denied claims that Brussels cov­ertly lowered Europe’s defenses against unfair subsidies by other countries and has shown “une­quivocal political bias” against anti-dumping measures.

The allegations are made in a letter from industry bodies repre­sent ing 10 of the European indus­tries most exposed to global com­petition, including textiles, chemicals metals, mining and fertilizers.

Writing to Jose Manuel Bar­roso – European Commission president and Mr Mandelson’s boss – they claim that the trade chief has changed his handling of anti-dumping cases behind the bocks oi member states.

Brussels instigated 36 anti­dumping measures last year -including controversial cases involving Chinese shoes, plastic bags and bicycle parts – but. there has been none this year.

“The Commission’s changed practice is more and more widely perceived as an anti-industry pol­icy bias,” the industries claim.

Mr Mandelson launched a con­sultation in December on reform­ing Europe’s anti-dumping rules following clashes between coun­tries such as Britain and Sweden – dominated by big retailers who want low-cost goods for consum­ers – and manufacturing coun­tries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The commissioner says that, unless a balance can be found between the two sides and unity is restored, Europe’s trade defense mechanism “risks becoming inoperable”.

Mr Mandelson has also pointed out that European manufacturers that outsource production to Asia are among those hit by anti­dumping measures as well as consumers.

The 10 industry bodies suspect Mr Mandelson has already made up his mind and has tilted imple­mentation of anti-dumping rules away from European manu­facturers even before the trade defense consultation is complete.

“Facts demonstrate.. that the Commission is already imple­menting a policy-line which not only disregards the outcome of the public consultation but also compromises the existing rule of law and flouts the right of defense,” their letter says.

Mr Mandelson’s -team flatly denies any change of policy, arguing that the absence of any new anti-dumping measures in 2007 was simply “the calm after the storm” of controversial eases last year.

Mr Mandelson’s officials also point out that their assessment of anti-dumping claims are closely governed by European law. They also say that Europe’s improved economic outlook means EU companies are less likely to suffer harm from low-cost imports.

A spokesman for Mr Barroso insisted the Commission was sticking strictly to the law. “We welcome any contributions to the consultation,” he said.

© Copyright - Izba bawełny