Absence of Belarussian rebar changes Polish & Baltic markets

Provisional anti-dumping margins on rebar imports from Belarus imposed at 12.5% in December last year changed the Polish and the Baltic markets, previously the main destinations for Belarussian rebars. The two regions have been affected by the AD duty in a different way, however, participants in EUROMETAL’s Central European meeting in Warsaw noted on Wednesday.

In total, rebar imports from Belarus into the EU dwindled 35% (to 333,400 mt) in 2016 versus 2015, said EUROMETAL director general Georges Kirps. Most of the volumes landed in Poland and the Baltics. The final duties are due to be announced on 20 June. A Lithuanian reinforcing steel center, B Group, predicted the final AD margin is likely to be adjusted upwards to 18-19%. “It was the same with the rebar from China to the UK,” the company’s ceo, Donatas Gelazauskas, told Platts.

The Lithuanian steel distribution company noted that Belarus was the key supplier of rebar into the Baltics markets, particularly after the shutdown of Latvia’s Liepajas Metalurgs. “This makes it more difficult for local rebar processors to ensure stable rebar deliveries moving forward”, he said.

In Poland the four existing rebar mills are able to cover the local market regardless of changes on the import side. After the 12.5% AD was put in place, Belarus imports are less attractive, giving more leeway to Russian suppliers, particularly NLMK Kaluga. The volumes from Russia are moderate and are not bringing an injury to the Polish market, a Polish mill source told Platts.

“Scrap prices in Belarus are regulated and the export is prohibited. This was evidently helping the country’s only steelmaker with the cost of scrap accounting for 70% of the production cost. Scrap was some €100/mt cheaper in Belarus than in Poland,” according to a market observer.

A representative of Celsa Huta Ostrowiec noted that the Polish rebar demand should grow only slightly as the EU funding for infrastructure is likely to be delayed until 2018. “The hold-up will weigh on output until at least H2 2017 at the earliest, when pace of investment growth will regain momentum,” Celsa said. In 2016 Poland’s rebar consumption decreased 4.8% year-on-year, to 1.46 million mt.

In contrast, German rebar consumption grew 6.8% y-o-y, to 3.16 million mt, which translates to lower pressure of German exports in the Polish market, Celsa noted. The company was upbeat about German rebar consumption, citing “boom conditions in the residential market” and the government’s €2.1 billion infrastructure investment programme.

Wojtek Laskowski, PLATTS