Action on imports of H-beams with alloy allowed by WTO, dept says

Economy June 16, 2017 01:00

By The Nation 

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TRADE authorities have reaffirmed that safeguard measures announced this year against imports of structural hot-rolled H-beams with alloy are in line with international practice permitted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

The Department of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce is taking the interests of all stakeholders into account, said Wanchai Varavithya, deputy director-general of the department.

He said a substantial increase in imports of structural hot-rolled H-beams with alloy had resulted in a loss of revenue to the state “due to the tax-evasive nature” of the practice, damage to the domestic industry’s competitiveness and risks to the lives and properties of consumers who were unaware that the imported products were not included in the Thai Industrial Standard 1227-2558 (2015). 

The government had said that it was imposing safeguard duties on the product from January 28.

The WTO allows free-trading countries to take safeguard action against such imports under certain conditions, namely an unforeseeable substantial increase in the import of a particular product to a scale that threatens to cause serious injury to a domestic industry, Wanchai said. 

To take a safeguard action, which consists of short-term measures of three or six years, the affected domestic industry must also implement an adjustment plan. The purpose of the safeguard is to erect a temporary hyperbolic wall that will allow the affected industry time to strengthen itself. Once this goal is achieved, the wall is removed and free trade resumes, he said.

Wanchai reaffirmed that due consideration would be given to safeguard measures prior to implementation. The affected parties will first present evidence of increased imports. The cause of such an increase will be examined, such as safeguards implemented in other countries leading to an influx of imports into Thailand, which constitutes an unforeseeable cause, he said. 

Furthermore, affected parties will also detail how they are affected and propose an adjustment plan they will be implementing. 

“The investigation will take a year, taking into account all stakeholders, which is very important because a safeguard action must take into consideration the benefits to society at large, including consumers, buyers and importers of such products, “ Wanchai said. 

“Effects on relevant parties must also be minimised. For instance, can our domestic industry produce the product in question? If it cannot, we must make an exception to import it.”