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Photograph: freeimages.com/Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski

The European Union is tightening the screws on Chinese and Russian steel exports, the bloc's executive said Friday, amid concerns that the two nations are unfairly undercutting prices.

Provisional anti-dumping duties are being imposed on cold-rolled flat steel from China and Russia, the European Commission said. It also announced new dumping investigations into seamless pipes, heavy plates and hot-rolled flat steel from China.

The move comes as the European steel sector faces increasing pressure from global overproduction and international competition. The EU is the second-largest steel producer in the world, generating more than 177 million tons every year at some 500 sites in 23 member states.

Seven of Europe's leading steel producing nations had called on the commission last week to do more for the embattled sector.

"We cannot allow unfair competition from artificially cheap imports to threaten our industry," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement announcing the new measures.

"I am determined to use all means possible to ensure that our trading partners play by the rules," she added, while also warning that EU trade action alone will not solve the steel sector's woes.

The EU now has in place 37 trade defence measures on the imports of steel products, while nine investigations are under way.

The commission vowed to "take measures to protect the European industry" if its probe into the seamless pipes, heavy plates and hot-rolled flat steel from China finds that the products are being dumped on the EU market.

In the case of the cold-rolled flat steel, it imposed levies ranging from 13.8 per cent to 16 per cent on Chinese companies and from 19.8 per cent to 26.2 per cent on Russian firms.

High-level talks on steel sector challenges are due to be held in Brussels on Monday. European industry representatives have announced plans to hold a demonstration.

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