The European Commission has taken a significant step in the ongoing effort to ensure fair trade practices by initiating an investigation into the possible circumvention of anti-dumping measures imposed on birch plywood imports originating in Russia.
As stated in previous posts, despite the EU’s sanctions imposed on the imports of Russian and Belarusian wood products, birch plywood and other wood products from those countries keep coming into the EU through third countries.
Initiating the investigation
Now, the European Commission announced on August 21, 2023, the new investigation, as outlined in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/1649. The focus of the investigation is on imports of birch plywood consigned from Turkey and Kazakhstan, regardless of their declared origin, and the potential measures to tackle the circumvention.
The move follows a request filed on July 10, 2023, by the Woodstock Consortium, urging the Commission to investigate potential circumvention practices. The request points to a shift in trade patterns involving exports from Russia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan to the European Union (EU) subsequent to the imposition of existing anti-dumping measures. These measures are currently in place and were enforced by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1930.
Changing trade patterns and concerns
The product under investigation encompasses plywood composed exclusively of wood sheets, each ply not exceeding 6 mm thickness, with outer plies of specified wood, including at least one outer ply of birch wood. This product, classified under CN code 4412 33 10, is being imported from Turkey and Kazakhstan, with concerns arising over potential circumvention practices.
Evidence presented in the request for investigation suggests that changes in trade patterns have been observed since the imposition of anti-dumping measures. These changes seem to stem from practices lacking sufficient economic justification or cause other than evading the anti-dumping duty. Notably, the practice of consigning the product concerned via Turkey and Kazakhstan to the EU has raised red flags.
Furthermore, the evidence indicates that the importation of birch plywood from Turkey and Kazakhstan is undermining the intended effects of the existing anti-dumping measures. There has been a notable increase in the volume of the product under investigation entering the EU market, potentially leading to injurious prices.
The investigation also raises concerns about the dumping of prices of the product under investigation compared to the previously established normal value for the product concerned. This indicates a potential distortion in trade dynamics that could have far-reaching economic consequences.
The Commission’s response
To address these concerns, the European Commission has taken several steps, including initiating an investigation according to Article 13(3) of Regulation (EU) 2016/1036 and requiring imports of the product under investigation to be subject to registration according to Article 14(5) of the same regulation. Interested parties, including producers, importers, and associations, are encouraged to provide their perspectives and evidence within the set timeframes to examine the situation comprehensively.
The investigation is set to conclude within nine months of the date of entry into force of the regulation. The findings will have implications for trade practices and anti-dumping measures in the region, potentially shaping trade relationships with the countries involved.
The European Commission emphasizes its commitment to upholding fair trade practices and protecting domestic industries from unfair competition, making this investigation a pivotal step in achieving these objectives. As the investigation progresses, it will be important for all stakeholders to closely follow the developments and provide necessary information to ensure a thorough and accurate assessment of the situation.