EU needs traders to balance mill supply

Importers of steel into the European Union are not harming their domestic markets, let alone intending to do so, but are a valuable supplement to local mills, traders claimed at Thursday’s EUROMETAL conference in Antwerp.

“Buying domestic is the natural way, and we are completing the picture,” Alexander Julius of MacroMetals stated at the event attended by Kallanish. He referred to periods when local mills could not supply sufficiently, like in 2021 when the post-Covid resurgence in demand gained momentum. “Mills underestimate the memory of customers of such periods, when we jumped in,” Julius said during the closing panel discussion of EUROMETAL’s International Steel Trade Day.

This was confirmed by Stemcor’s Julian Verden and Steelforce’s Laurent Taylor. “We do remember what happened last year,” Taylor reiterated, and advised that “nobody should buy 100% local, or 100% import”. He underlined that import buying is a skill that requires research, and a tool that can be used in purchasing negotiations.

Verden described the role of a trader as “an arm of the customer” and an “extension of mills”. Foreign producers exporting into the EU “would operate foreign offices elsewhere, but for them it works better with an external agent [EU trader] than having ongoing costs with permanent staff”.

Markus Fix of Ruhr-based service centre DM Stahl complemented the panel when he stated that “you traders were reliable partners when mills failed”. He highlighted their role as buyers of big volumes, to be distributed among buyers of various sizes. Against that, “smaller service centres would not be in the position to order a vessel of 30,000 tonnes,” he said.

Tayfun Iseri, who represents Turkish importers as well as mills, as president of Turkish flat steel association Yisad, concurred. Speaking of his experience in the US, he pointed out that “distributors, service centres and steel users just would not know how to import”.

Christian Koehl Germany