Business group ‘concerned’ about impact of U.S. tariffs on Greek steel exports

The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) is concerned about the impact the tariffs announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on steel and aluminium imports will have on Greek steel exports and the country’s wider effort to improve the economy’s extroversion, according to sources from companies in the sector.

The companies are concerned the measure may lead to EU retaliation and an increase in protectionism, a SEV source said.

Greek steel companies that have booked orders for the U.S. market are rushing to deliver them to avoid the new tariffs that will come into effect in 15 days. According to SEV’s data, exports of steel and aluminium products to the US in 2017 amounted to 117 million euros. Exports mainly relate to sheets and tubes, which reached 100 million euros in value last year.

They source from SEV pointed out that in the years of the Greek crisis, companies in the sector have made and continue to make significant investments in modern technologies that ensure access to even the most advanced and demanding markets, boosting exports that are important not only for the industry but also for the stable and sustainable recovery of the economy.

“Strengthening and widening protectionism can lead to a trade war and this will not benefit anyone,” they said and expressed hope that this will be avoided even “in the nick of time” as there can be “only losers” from such a development.

“Despite the intense and concerted efforts made in recent days by the EU and all business partners, President Trump’s intention to impose additional customs duties of 25 percent on European steel exports and 10 percent on aluminum exports has now unfortunately been confirmed,” the SEV source said.

“Should Europe ultimately not be excluded from these decisions as a strategic ally of the US, the European industry will call on the EU within the next 15 days, to safeguard the interests of European production, by taking the following actions: appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO), take measures to ensure imports and take targeted ‘countermeasures’ in a series of products from the United States,” it added.