European plate imports wane, except for value-added product

There are signs that imports of plate into Europe, which have been strong in recent months, are about to wane, but imported value-added product remains of interest.

According to one German buyer, flame-cut plate from China has gained quite a share in his home market this year. “I’ve just lost one customer who is ordering all from China now,” he tells Kallanish. “They are making enormous progress in our market, especially with big buyers.”

Domestic German processors would normally add some €400/tonne ($435) for such services, which would require a deal price of €1,300/tonne ($1,415) to be profitable. Chinese material can be had for less than €1,000/t, which pays off for European customers despite transport costs. He expects these offers will continue.

Meanwhile, imports of standard plate could mitigate after the influx seen this spring. Prices were most recently struck at around €780/t cfr Antwerp for S355 grade, not really lower than a month ago but a good €100/t below prices quoted by northwestern integrated mills. However, “yesterday a manager from a mill told me that India and Indonesia have stopped offering,” one buyer said on Thursday. Other sources make similar suggestions, but the situation is unclear.

“There are quite some vessels cruising outside Antwerp; the situation is pretty chaotic,” another observer says. He believes that rebounding slab prices on the Asian market could help stop the flow to Europe.

Christian Koehl Germany