Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

THE European Union (EU) on Thursday imposed tariffs as high as 67.8% on pipe fittings and ceramic tableware from China, the latest evidence of what is seen as the Chinese threat to higher-cost EU producers.

China, which faces more EU antidumping taxes than any other nation, increased its share of the bloc’s threaded malleable fittings market to 47.3% last year from 36.5% in 2008, the European Commission, the EU’s trade authority, said on Thursday.

The levies punish Chinese and Thai manufacturers of threaded malleable fittings as well as Chinese makers of ceramic tableware and kitchenware for allegedly selling them in the 27-nation bloc below cost, a practice that is known as dumping.

The fittings are used in the gas, water and heating systems of homes and office buildings as well as in the pipe systems of oil refineries.

Importers of the tableware and kitchenware include Germany’s Metro and Sweden’s IKEA.

European manufacturers had suffered "material injury" as a result of dumped imports from China and Thailand, the commission said.

Both sets of antidumping duties, due to take effect on Friday, are for six months and may be prolonged.

EU governments, acting on proposals from the commission, have to decide within six months whether to turn the provisional duties into "definitive" levies for five years.

The rates of definitive duties can change.

Thailand expanded its share of the European market to 5.4% from 5.2%. The levies against Thailand range from 15.9% to 39.7%.

The duties against China range from 32.1% to 67.8%, depending on the manufacturer.