EU PROTECTS > Our Society > European mosaic: How EU trade investigators protected jobs against unfair competition

“When you consider the full production chain, at least 100,000 jobs were at risk.”

Alfonso Panzani

Ceramic tiles are in our bathrooms, kitchens and along our floors. In Europe, the sector is dominated by local businesses and small manufacturers whose livelihoods depend on having a level playing field. 

In 2016, massive imports of discounted Chinese ceramic tiles threatened European businesses and put thousands of jobs at risk. The European Union decided to investigate the unfair pricing (otherwise known as ‘dumping’) and make sure such imports were sold at proper market prices. 

European mosaic: How EU trade investigators protected jobs against unfair competition

Artisans and small businesses can easily find themselves defenceless against unfair trading practices. When European ceramics manufacturers were undercut by massive imports of Chinese ceramics sold at artificially low prices, jobs and livelihoods were on the line. 

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Alfonso Panzani

Settecento – Mosaics & Ceramics

Italy

“We employ just over 100 people and are part of a chain of ceramics businesses, suppliers and architects that regularly export to countries outside the EU. But when we faced a flood of marked-down ceramics from China, the survival of our business was on the line.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I cannot imagine what would have happened without EU action.”

 - Alfonso Panzani

Renaud Batier

French, Cerame-Unie association

Belgium

“We are a trade association that represents European ceramics businesses. Our members warned us about a growing number of cheap ceramic tile imports from outside the EU. Once we had proof of unfair trade, we alerted the European Commission so they could launch an investigation.” 

 

 

“Our members knew that their businesses and jobs were on the line.”

 - Renaud Batier

Markus Walldorf

German, Trade department, European Commission

Belgium

“We had to make sure that everyone involved provided accurate information, so that we could judge the risk of Chinese exporters damaging our industry with artificially low prices and huge quantities of stock.”

“We also gathered information from Chinese exporters, such as sales and production figures. Of course, we double-checked this at their factories in China. We needed to be diplomatic and polite while ensuring that the data provided was correct.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We needed to be very vigilant in order to get reliable data from everybody.”

 - Markus Walldorf

Kristina Gutteková

Czech, Trade department, European Commission

Belgium

“We needed to assess whether European industry would suffer from unfair trading if measures were removed. This involved visiting ceramics businesses in Spain, Italy and Portugal.” 

“Together with the findings of our investigators in China, we proposed an anti-dumping duty on the low-priced ceramic tile imports.”

 

“If anti-dumping measures were allowed to lapse, then European industry would suffer.”

 - Kristina Gutteková

Florindo Iervolino

Customs, Port of Genoa

Italy

“The Port of Genoa is one of the busiest seaports in Italy. We control every product that enters the EU from the port. This includes handling imports of products – like ceramics – intended for European markets.”

“Whatever the sector, we make sure businesses pay for violating EU anti-dumping laws.” 

 

 

 

“Our work is to make sure that the goods entering Europe are safe and comply with EU law.”

 - Florindo Iervolino

Did you know?

Aluminium foil, cast iron items, solar panels

Just a few examples of other products, besides ceramics, that have been subject to anti-dumping investigations in the EU in 2018.

Two-thirds

The market share of SMEs in the European ceramic tiles sector. 

33

The number of new trade defence measures in place since 2014, bringing the total number of measures in force to 144. These trade defence measures directly protect over 350,000 jobs.

 

3.8 billion m2

The amount of Chinese ceramic tile spare capacity at the end of 2016, several times higher than EU consumption.

Levelling the playing field

In 2017, the EU adopted a new method for calculating the fair price for products coming into the EU.

 

Equipping Europe’s SMEs

If you run a small business and want to learn more about anti-dumping legislation, ongoing investigations or even get involved in launching an investigation, contact the SME Helpdesk: trade-defence-sme-helpdesk@ec.europa.eu.