The government has launched a new body, the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), to investigate complaints related to unfair import practices, such as dumping and subsidies.
Previously, the UK was covered by the European Commission’s trade remedies investigation body, as an EU member state.
From 1 January, the UK has introduced its own trade remedies regime which will be able to apply trade remedies measures on trade between the UK and EU.
Trade remedies explained
Governments can protect domestic industry from ‘unfair’ global trade practices through trade remedies measures, typically additional tariffs on specific products.
- anti-dumping measures (where an exporter sells its products under-value)
- anti-subsidy or countervailing measures (where an exporter is unfairly subsidised by government)
- safeguard measures (to protect the domestic industry from a surge in imports).
Different from EU
While UK trade remedies regime follows the framework set out by the World Trade Organization (WTO), there are some key points of divergence from the EU’s regime.
UK producers can request a trade remedies investigation as long as the industry they operate in represents at least 1% of the UK’s domestic market and the application is supported by at least 25% of all UK production of the affected goods.
The application must not be opposed by producers accounting for a greater share of production. Unlike the EU, which has to consider production across all EU Member States, the UK regime only concerns itself with UK producers.
The TRA will operate as an arms-length body of the Department for International Trade. It can recommend the imposition of new trade remedy measures, such as tariffs, to stop injury to UK producers.
Review existing measures
TRA investigators will be reviewing 43 existing EU trade remedy measures relevant to UK industry which were transitioned when the UK left the EU Customs Union.
Eleven of these transition reviews are currently live, covering products from a range of sectors, including steel, fisheries and biodiesel.
“The TRA will help create a level playing field for British businesses so they can compete with overseas producers, protecting them from unfair trading practices and unforeseen surges in imports,” said international trade minister Ranil Jayawardena.