EU flats duties seen creating ‘monopoly’


European trade defence measures against flat product imports could lead to a “… monopoly” of the region’s steelmakers whose recent price hikes are not justified by demand, according to Slawomir Boliglowa, chief executive of Polish service centre and distributor Maxstal.

Already-imposed anti-dumping duties on China have stopped imports from there of hot and cold rolled coil, and plate, while duties are also expected soon on imports from Brazil, Iran, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. “This will lead to a complete closing off of the European market for cheap product from the East,” Boliglowa tells Wirtualny Nowy Przemysl.

“We supported mills’ actions designed to strengthen the European market, but it seems to us that such a strong limiting of imports will cause a monopoly of European steelmakers, who are already increasing prices from month to month,” Boliglowa says in the interview monitored by Kallanish. “This [… price increase] is justified neither by the level of demand, which remains stable or is very slightly increasing, nor by raw materials prices.”

European mills’ plans to charge €500/tonne for hot rolled coil and €600/t for CRC in the first quarter next year signal a return to the high prices of 2007/08, he adds.

Duties on feedstock products could lead to increased imports of finished products such as pipe and profiles from Russia or Turkey, which would be a “… huge threat” to Europe’s distributors and service centres, according to Boliglowa.

“If imported finished profiles are cheaper than the sheet sold in our market that’s used to make them, then it would be an unprecedented threat to service centres,” Boliglowa observes. “In this situation mill-owned distributors will be at an advantage as they’ll have easier access to product direct from the producer.”

Maxstal is installing a new 30,000 tonnes/year cold-formed sections mill at its site in Krakow, with production expected to start by the end of March 2017. The new line is seen increasing the firm’s shipments by 25%.