Members of the European steel trading community were angered by the initiation of an anti-dumping investigation into imports of hot rolled coil from five countries with one warning that the current direction of travel will see the market develop into a mill-led monopoly.
For over a year the European Commission has been under huge pressure from steel producers to address what they consider to be dumping by certain countries. Last week Mattia Pellegrini of the European Commission outlined the situation telling the Platts Steel Markets Europe conference in Barcelona, “steel is the most vocal group. If they want to get access to [EC president] Junker, then the steel industry will get access to Junker”.
However, downstream players have become increasingly agitated with independent companies relying on imports to compete with domestic mills claiming that they are being squeezed out.
One trader said that while the EU “cannot be compared with the US” in terms of scale of trade barriers, “it is very clear that Eurofer is trying to close the European steel market for non-EU producers”.
In a statement reacting to the investigation, Eurofer told Platts, “we are pleased that the case has now been formally opened by the Commission, but we can only wait and see what the results will be months down the line if and when provisional duties are applied”.
Jeffrey Kabel, chairman of the International Steel Trade Association (ISTA) said the situation was becoming unfair, “this is beginning to look a tad like Fortress Europe – strange as the global market has been relatively buoyant. ISTA believes in free and fair trade. I would think both large and smaller steel buyers will begin to seriously challenge their potentially dwindling lack of choice”.
The trader concurred, “in the EU, more than 50% of the steel service sector is in the hands of the European steel mills. This is an increasing share. You will find the same tendency in building components and other sectors. Consequently, the mills have a direct influence on the market pricing of finished products and the competitiveness of independent (non-integrated) manufacturers”.
However, European producers claim that they support free and fair trade but that anti-dumping measures are required to create a level playing field for domestic suppliers.
— Peter Brennan