EUROMETAL MILAN: EU trade cases lead to 51% fall in related steel imports

Trade cases opened by the European Commission (EC) have led to a fall in steel imports from the exporting countries under investigation, European steel trade federation Eurometal said at its regional meeting in Milan, Italy, on Thursday May 18.

Steel imports related to EU trade cases totalled 1.514 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2017, according to Eurometal. If extrapolated to a full year, this would equate to 51.33% drop from a total of 12.442 million tonnes in 2015.

Imports of hot rolled coil (HRC) from China into the EU fell by 30.65% year-on-year to 1.03 million tonnes in 2016, from 1.49 million tonnes in 2015, after an anti-dumping investigation was initiated in February 2016 and provisional duties were imposed in October 2016.

Chinese HRC imports fell further ahead of the imposition of higher definitive duties on April 6, 2017. Imports fell sharply to 4,900 tonnes in the first quarter of 2017, compared with 336,000 tonnes in the corresponding period of 2016.

The EC decided not to impose preliminary duties on imports of HRC from Brazil, Iran, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine, it said on April 10.

Imports of HRC from Brazil increased by 14% year-on-year to 657,900 tonnes in 2016, and by 19% year-on-year to 2.03 million tonnes from Russia in 2016, Eurometal said.

However, imports have fallen sharply since the EU implemented a ruling on January 6 that all imports of HRC from Russia and Brazil must be registered on arrival in the region, Eurometal added.

The EC’s decision not to impose provisional duties reduced HRC prices by €40-50 ($45-56) per tonne, according to Antonio Gozzi, president of Italian steel federation Federacciai.

Gozzi was speaking at the Made in Steel 2017 conference, which is taking place alongside Eurometal’s regional meeting in Milan.

Metal Bulletin’s price assessment for EU domestic HRC ex-works Southern Europe was €500-515 ($557-573) per tonne on May 17, down from a one-year peak of €530-550 ($590-612) per tonne on March 1.

“The EU already has the tools – that is, provisional duties. Nobody is calling for [further] protective measures, but Europe should hurry up,” Gozzi said.

“Northern European deindustrialised countries, for example, are not affected by this issue, which is reducing steelmakers’ profitability. Currently, we see a $150 per tonne price gap between the USA and Europe,” he added.

Increased demand in the EU’s steel markets in 2016 was soaked up by a growing volume of imports to the region, steel association Eurofer said in its annual report on May 17.

The EU steel market expanded by 3.20% in 2016, but imports increased by 9% over the same period, which prevented domestic steelmakers from taking advantage of the sector’s growth, the trade group said.

Viral Shah