Safeguards are intended for situations in which an EU industry is affected by an unforeseen, sharp and sudden increase of imports.
What is the Transitional Product-Specific Safeguard Mechanism?
The Transitional Product-Specific Safeguard Mechanism (see point 16 in China WTO accession agreement) is an exception to the erga omnes rule. It will expire in 2013.
It was negotiated for China when it joined the WTO, and is meant as a temporary safety valve to ease China's integration into the world economy.
The requirements are less stringent than for general safeguards, e.g. significant trade diversion or increased imports that cause (or threaten) not "serious injury" but merely market
Safeguards in a nutshell
The objective is to give the industry a temporary breathing space to make necessary adjustments – safeguards always come with an obligation to restructure.
The EU has to show that the increase in imports is:
- due to unforeseen developments
- causing (or threatening) serious injury to domestic industry (a higher level of injury than the material injury required for anti-dumping and anti-subsidy)
- and that safeguards are in the interest of the EU (a requirement beyond WTO obligations)
Another essential feature of safeguards is that they apply to all such imports from all countries(this is called erga omnes).
EU trade policy and safeguards
The safeguard procedure is slightly different from anti-dumping and anti-subsidy, and the decision to apply safeguards always has to be weighed very carefully. So far, safeguards have only been used sparingly by the EU.
Imports may also be subject to surveillance if the trend of imports of a product threatens to cause injury to EU producers.
Surveillance does not restrict imports – it is a system of automatic import licensing over a limited time – either retroactively or in advance.
More on Safeguards
- How to make a safeguard complaint?
- What are safeguard investigations?
- What are safeguard measures?
- What monitoring is there of safeguard measures?
For more on the legal basis of trade defence measures, see Legal basis
- EU regulation 260/2009 – imports from WTO countries
- EU regulation 625/2009 – imports from non-WTO countries
- EU regulation 427/2003 - transitional safeguards for China