EU duties seen altering trade, CRC/coated replaces HRC

The potential imposition by the EU of import tariffs following its steel safeguard investigation could simply see transformed steel-consuming products enter Europe instead of duty-levied steel. So said EUROMETAL director general Georges Kirps at the distributor association’s Central Europe regional meeting this week.

There is also the question of whether Switzerland and Norway will be levied with any resultant measures, as they supply a significant tonnage to the EU, Kirps said.

In any case, trade defence measures should be clearly thought through as they have a big impact on supply chains, he added. The EU safeguard investigation omits semis but covers all other steel products, the imports of which into the EU amounted to 29.4 million tonnes in 2017, level on 2016. The main impact of the probe will be on flat products, which in 2017 had a 69% share in imports of the products covered by the investigation.

Last year EU imports from non-EU sources of hot rolled flats except for quarto plate fell -18% on-year to 6.97mt, while quarto plate imports declined -11% to 2.46mt. This was, however, offset by a 24% rise in cold rolled flats imports to 2.46mt and 26% rise in metallic coated flats imports to 4.96mt.

Hot rolled coil imports in 2017 from Russia declined by -65% to 722,000t, from Ukraine by -38% to 666,000t and from Brazil by -44% to 371,000t. These countries were hit by anti-dumping duties. They were, however, partially offset by a rise from Turkey, India, Egypt, Taiwan, South Korea, and Serbia.

Cold rolled coil imports from AD duty-levied countries, Russia, Iran and China, also dropped in 2017, and were partially offset by an increase from India, Vietnam, South Korea, Ukraine, and Brazil.

In the first quarter of 2018 HR flats imports nevertheless rose 15% on-year to 2.08mt, driven by Russia supplying 420,000t versus 23,000t in Q1 2017, despite being levied with AD duties. Imports from Turkey also rose 56% to 731,000t and from Serbia by 144% to 205,000t.

The Russian rebound is because “…Severstal has a low anti-dumping duty and has service centres in Poland and the Baltic countries,” to which it has increased supply, Kirps suggested at the Vienna meeting attended by Kallanish.

The EU import data doesn’t tell the full story, moreover. A large portion of product imported into Italy and Spain is done so by either import-dependent re-rollers or mill-tied processors. This product is not traded on the open market. In addition, only a minority of product imported into Belgium actually remains there, while the rest is trans-shipped to neighbouring countries, Kirps concluded.