Janus Perspective: European Association of Fastener Distributors

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Janus Perspective: European Association of Fastener Distributors
January 19, 2022

A review and overview of the global fasteners market

Named after the Roman god who is often described as having two faces – due to his ability to look forward and backward – the Janus perspective is a unique characteristic that includes a wide range of global business leaders. de fixation, all of whom brought their retrospective of 2021 and their reflections on the prospects and challenges for 2022.

Alexander Kolodzik, General Secretary

The biggest challenge for our industry in 2021 was undoubtedly the European Commission’s anti-dumping investigation into imports of iron and steel fasteners from the People’s Republic of China, which was initiated on 21st December 2020.

As I’m sure most people know, the Commission plans to impose anti-dumping duties at levels of up to 86.5% by 18and February 2022. It is now up to the national governments of EU Member States to vote on the Commission’s proposal. If the duties were enacted as proposed, it would have a disruptive effect on the fasteners supply chain and would further increase costs in an already inflationary environment.

The effects of the duties would therefore have a significant effect on our business – and on the EU industry as a whole – also in 2022 and beyond. This is what EU fastener distributors need to be prepared for.

We live in uncertain times. The pandemic continues to pose new challenges to politics, the economy and society. The consequences for EU fastener distributors range from pandemic-related production stoppages in exporting countries; a still exceptional maritime freight situation; as well as work restrictions in the companies themselves – when and where the Covid-19 situation requires it. Of course, the ability to travel for business is also severely limited due to the pandemic, which limits the screening and auditing of new business contacts.

Be that as it may, for some years now we have been living in a time of international tensions where protectionist tendencies are spreading. It also affects the United States, which may have softened its tone even after Trump’s departure, but has not necessarily become less tough on substance.

Unfortunately, the EU is also entering dangerous waters. The Commission’s apparent adoption of commercial policy approaches that have nothing to do with establishing a level playing field is currently found in the ongoing anti-dumping investigation.

At 86.5%, the duties recently proposed by the European Commission exceed the anti-dumping duties applicable from 2009 to 2016 and are set at prices almost doubled which have already exploded in the last twelve months. A reduced tariff of 39.6% will apply to a limited number of Chinese exporters, as well as individual tariffs to three Chinese companies. These rights have nothing to do with the reality of the market but arbitrarily distort an already extremely tight market. It is not clear how the Commission arrived at this conclusion.

The EFDA has identified fundamental errors in the Commission’s decisions and calculations which contribute to these extraordinarily high duty levels. She had presented ample evidence during the investigation proving this inaccuracy and remains surprised and deeply troubled by the Commission’s decision.

With the anti-dumping duties proposed by the Commission, the EU is creating a permanent supply problem for European industry, thus jeopardizing “Made in EU”. The excessively high customs duties will hit European businesses at a time when they are already suffering from huge supply problems. It is totally incomprehensible that the European Commission wants to make the supply situation even worse in these exceptionally difficult circumstances.

There is insufficient capacity for fasteners in other countries as global fastener production capacity is already under unprecedented pressure. The proposed duties will put the capacity of manufacturers outside of China under even greater pressure. European manufacturers of fasteners are also not available as substitutes. Their abilities are already stretched now and there is no improvement in sight. EU fastener distributors know this from decades of experience and many attempts to source standard fasteners within the EU, also during the period from 2009 to 2016 when duties were in effect. force on iron and steel fasteners from China, as well as during the pandemic when imports from third countries were very difficult to obtain.

Throughout 2021, the EFDA has been extremely active in providing detailed and comprehensive arguments and evidence to the Commission and, through its members, to the national governments of EU Member States – in order to obtain a reasonable result of the investigation. With the same commitment, the EFDA informed and accompanied its members on the steps. In 2022, the EFDA will continue its efforts. If the EU finally decides to implement the rights proposed by the Commission, the entire European fasteners market will be exposed to particularly significant challenges in 2022 and in the years to come. It all now depends on the national governments of EU member states and whether they take the interests of their European manufacturing, construction and consumer economies seriously and advise the Commission to reconsider its proposal.

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