China has reacted strongly to the announcement from the European Union that it will levy import tariffs of up to 73.7% on its steel, in response to what it has called ‘dumping’ of the product on the European market.

The steel industry in Europe has been suffering for a number of years, with some 85,000 jobs reported to have been lost since 2008.

A statement from the European Commission said its investigations confirmed that “Chinese products had been sold in Europe at heavily dumped prices”.

However, in a Commerce Ministry statement, China hit back at both the accusation and the measures taken by the EU, saying, "Rashly taking such wrong steps as trade protection and restricting fair market competition is not the right direction for development of the European Union steel industry”.

The statement went on to say that Chinese steel accounts for only 5% of the European market and could not, therefore, be responsible for affecting prices.

The EU duties apply to both heavy steel plates and the hot-rolled steel used in construction and the manufacture of construction equipment.

The tariff for heavy plates has been set at between 65.1% and 73.7%, while the hot-rolled steel tariff is between 13.2% and 22.6%.

The European Commission statement said it had imposed the duties to allow EU companies “necessary breathing space”.

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