Latest EUROMETAL meeting of SSC from Southern Europe was convened in Milano on 21. november 2019.
The conference was attended by steel professionals from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the UK and Ukraine.
During conference presentations and panel discussion the idling of ILVA was controversially debated.
Some Italian SSC claim that they are prepared to face a number of potential scenarios. As in the past, they are confident that they will be able to quickly adapt to react to changes on the supply side.
Others indicated that at least at short terms, supply problems might well arise and that importing coils might eventually remain the sole viable solution to cope with EU supply shortages.
As a consequence, voices claimed to re-open an assessment on the impact of EU flat steel safeguards, on the background that an idling of ILVA would mean that a yearly volume of 4,5 million tons of flat steel products would disappear from EU supply side.
Conference was told that EU steel safeguard measures had in 2019 an effect of significantly decreasing import volumes into EU but that in the same time these lower imports had no impact on the HRC price levels which crashed by approximately 170 Euros per ton since the introduction of provisional safeguards.
In this regard imports from Turkey were another conference topic.
In fact, Turkish steel producers did take advantage of AD cases against HRC imports from China, Russia, Ukraine, Brasil and Iran to boost their exports to EU markets.
In this context, conference was informed that EU Commission might consider to launch an AD probe into HRC imports from Turkey.
On the other hand, Turkey is a very important market for EU flat steels, which could incite the Turkish administration to retaliate against eventual EU measures against Turkey.
But it might be worth noting, that Turkish steel producers as well as Turkish steel end users are strongly opposing any trade barriers on steel imports into Turkey. Background of this is that most of Turkish automotive and white goods production is under control of EU interests and that most of these outputs are marketed back into EU markets.
Another point noted during the meeting was that Italian SSC business in 2019 remained close to a fair activity level, despite a more negative perception.
As a matter of fact, shipments by Italian SSC did drop in the first 9 months of 2019 by only -2,7 %, year-on-year, while during same period shipments by German SSC dropped by -6,2 %, French SSC by -5,7 % and SSC from EU-28 by an average of -4,1 %.
The conference did also stress out the systemic role of SSC for consumers, on one side, and for producers, on the other side.
For consumers, SSC bring added value by stock availability, by making available the complete range of products and processing required by the supply chain, by customized delivery logistics, by timing complying with customer requirements and by smoothing and stabilizing the price cycles.
For suppliers, SSC represent an efficient route to the market, complying with mill volume and range requirements and constituting a fair partner regarding pricing for value.
Finally, the conference expressed high concern that world economy has now entered a phase of de-globalization, triggering also a move from global to regional steel markets and steadily growing protectionism against international steel trade flows, in contradiction with any principles of optimizing global supply chains.