The EU Parliament gave today its green light to start talks soon with national governments on new EU anti-dumping rules designed to better protect EU industry and jobs.

The new rules on the calculation of import duties respond to the controversy around China’s market economy status and to unfair trade practices from non-EU countries with a heavy state interference in the economy.

The parliament’s international trade committee had already approved a text that confirmed a new trend. The arrival of the new French president Emmanuel Macron is an important factor, who in the past has proposed the commitment to “Buy European” in public tenders at the European level.

The Parliament’s new measures foresee a change to the calculation of anti-dumping duties, with the aim of overcoming the division between market economy and non-market economy. The decision to change the method has come about because since 2016 China is pushing to be considered a market economy according to the rules of the World Trade Organization. In recent months, European industry has raised fears that with the change in China’s status, the union could be at the mercy of unfair competition from China.

The parliament has reinforced the measures proposed by the Commission. According to the text approved in the committee with 33 votes in favor, three votes against and two abstentions, the assembly, among other things, more clearly specified the “significant distortions” to competition that can allow EU institutions to raise exceptional duties against the products of the exporter country. Parliamentarians listed specific criteria, including the role of the government in the allocation of resources, the absence/presence of laws in terms of failures, and intellectual copyright.

The negotiating mandate includes the following key points:

·         Anti‑dumping investigations need to take into account the exporting country’s compliance with international labour, fiscal and environmental international standards, potential discriminatory measures against foreign investments, effective company law, property rights and the tax and bankruptcy regime,·         The EU Commission must issue a detailed report describing the specific situation in a certain country or sector for which the calculation of duties will be applied.

·         There should be no additional burden of proof on EU companies in anti‑dumping cases, on top of the current procedure to be followed when asking the Commission to launch an investigation.

As there was no objection during the July Strasbourg plenary, Parliament will start talks with EU ministers based on this mandate on Wednesday, 12 July.

The expiry in December 2016 of parts of China’s 2001 World Trade Organisation (WTO) accession protocol raised the question of whether WTO members can treat China as a non-market economy and calculate anti‑dumping measures accordingly. The new rules would use the same methodology for all WTO members, regardless of whether they have market economy status, but will target countries where “significant market distortion” exists.

EU jobs and businesses have been under immense pressure due to China’s excess production capacity and subsidised economy, especially in the steel sector. MEPs urged the Commission to counter unfair competition from China in a way that complies with WTO rules in a resolution in May 2016.