Polish steel rebar prices down under pressure from imports

Domestic prices for steel rebar in Poland have come down in the week ending Friday March 1 under pressure from cheaper imports, industry sources have told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, exw Poland, was 2,758-2,850 zloty ($691-714) per tonne on Friday. This was down by 20-29 zloty per tonne week on week from 2,787-2,870 zloty per tonne on February 23.

Polish mills were offering rebar this week in the range of 2,800-2,950 zloty per tonne CPT, which would net back to 2,780-2,920 zloty per tonne ex-works.

In comparison, last week, the prevailing offer price for domestic rebar was 2,900 zloty per tonne CPT, about 2,880 zloty per tonne ex-works. But this price was not firm because, since last week, Polish mills have been offering discounts on larger volumes.

This week, some producers lowered their official offers by 100 zloty per tonne, market sources told Fastmarkets. As a result, offers of 2,900 zloty per tonne CPT and above were not widely accepted in the spot market.

“Everyone expects [prices from] mills to go down to at least 2,750 zloty per tonne CPT [about 2,730 zloty per tonne ex-works] for larger purchases,” a distributor source told Fastmarkets.

But this estimate was not widely agreed by other market participants, who estimated the tradable price for more significant volumes in the range of 2,758-2,780 zloty per tonne ex-works.

A deal for 200 tonnes of rebar was heard concluded at 2,870 zloty per tonne CPT, about 2,850 zloty per tonne ex-works.

Demand for Polish rebar remained comparatively low, however, although with some improvements seen in the cut-and-bend sector.

“There are some investments. And some construction sites are expected to start work in March or April,” a second distributor source told Fastmarkets.

The fall in the price of Polish rebar was seen to be mainly due to strong competition from imports.

“The lower offers from Polish mills were in response to cheap imported material,” a consumer source told Fastmarkets, adding that import offers of rebar from Germany to Poland were heard at €640 ($693) per tonne CPT.

A trader source told Fastmarkets that import offers from Italy have been heard this week at €635 per tonne CPT, from Hungary at €645 per tonne CPT, and from Moldova at €658 per tonne CPT.

In comparison, two weeks earlier, some offers of imported rebar from Italy and Hungary to Poland were heard at €650-655 per tonne CPT. Even then, such prices were low compared with offers from Polish mills.

Blockade of Poland-Ukraine border
Meanwhile, a blockade by farmers of the Poland-Ukraine border continued to create difficulties for imports of steel products into Poland, market sources said.

Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks against the stringent requirements of the European Green Deal and what they have said was “unfair” competition from outside the EU.

“Since February 16, the Polish railways have not been accepting any new shipments,” the first distributor source told Fastmarkets. “As much as 5,000 tonnes of rebar, which we were supposed to [have received] in February, has been stopped and postponed to March. No-one knows how long this will go on.”

According to the same source, only two shipment stations were not included in the stoppages.

The source added that the blockade of the border has had some effect on importers, but it was not affecting the entire market.

“The queue on the Ukrainian side has sometimes reached 70km long,” Yuliya Mezentseva, head of logistics at Metinvest Polska, said in an interview with Polish news outlet Puls Biznesu in February.

“The Polish-Ukrainian agreement stipulates that six trains a day with steel and ore should pass through… the Medyka border crossing,” she added. “In practice, [only] three or four are allowed through, because the Polish border [authorities] and railway administrators give priority to other transport.”

Mezentseva explained that the long waits on the border increasesd costs for the company. “For every hour at a standstill, we have to pay 1.90 Swiss francs [$2.16] per commercial wagon,” she said.

On February 28, Polish and Ukrainian officials discussed the border blockade but did not achieve a clear solution to the problem.

Julia Bolotova in Brussels contributed to this report.

Published by: Darina Kahramanova