In preparation for its independent trade remedy framework, the UK government has launched a Call for Evidence on November 28, 2017 to identify UK businesses that produce goods currently subject to EU anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures. Currently, all trade remedy activities applying in the UK (for example investigations, decisions, and monitoring) are undertaken by the European Commission under the EU’s common commercial policy. Post-Brexit, the UK plans to operate its own trade remedy regime through the “UK Trade Remedies Authority”. (See here for our previous post on the trade and customs bills establishing these powers.)
The Call for Evidence is a consultation process by the Department of International Trade (“DIT”) to determine which existing measures to maintain after Brexit. The DIT notes that this will not preclude the terms of any implementation period that may be agreed with the EU.
The DIT will conduct its assessment based on three criteria:
- An application from UK businesses that produce products subject to measures has been received.
- The application is supported by a “sufficient proportion” of UK producers.
- The market share of these UK producers are “above a certain level”.
As acknowledged in the consultation document, these criteria reflect WTO rules which require applications for trade remedies to be supported by domestic producers accounting for at least 25% of the domestic industry’s total output, and 50% of total output either supporting or opposing the remedies.
The DIT asks UK businesses to indicate whether they support, oppose, or are neutral about maintaining existing trade measures that directly affect them once the UK commences its own trade remedy system. These measures (which cover around 70 product categories) are set out in Annex B to the Call for Evidence. Businesses have until March 30, 2018 to make their submissions to the DIT.
After this initial period of consultations, the DIT will review all responses and provide information on (as yet undefined) next steps. There is still a lack of clarity on how the UK will carry over any existing antidumping or antisubsidy duties and whether WTO rules would permit such “grandfathering” of previous EU measures or require a new investigation.
It will be important for UK businesses that are affected by these changes to respond to the questions set out in this consultation process as the DIT clearly explains that the UK does not intend to maintain measures which do not meet the explicit criteria. Similarly, applications that do not conform to the format and conditions stipulated by the DIT will not be considered.