Steel flats imports would be most impacted by EU safeguard

Gabriel Holub, from Slovakian flats steel producer US Steel Kosice

Flat products imports will take the main hit from the EU’s safeguard investigation into steel imports launched in reaction to the declaration of US tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%), including against the EU, according to Georges Kirps, the head of EUROMETAL.

Speaking at a regional meeting in Vienna on Tuesday, Kirps noted that import volumes of flat products into the EU market last year were 20.3 million and accounted for 69% of the total volumes under the safeguard investigation. By comparison, longs and tubular products volumes were respectively 6.4 million mt and 2.7 million mt, or 22% and 9% of the total.

All product categories under investigation represent 18% of the EU steel supply chain.

According to Gabriel Holub, a representative of Slovakian flats steel producer US Steel Kosice, owned by the US Steel group, said Section 232 represented the main downside risk for the European market as it will likely lead to similar measures taken by other countries. But at the same time the EU safeguard measures, if adopted, should help to protect the EU market against massive inflow of material from other regions blocked by the US, he added.

A member of the trading community at the meeting called the current safeguard procedure in the EU a “very difficult situation” for independent service centers, traders and distributors, who are depending on imported material beside the material they buy from the EU mills.

“There has to be a healthy mixture between both otherwise we lose our competitive edge,” he said. “We need to have the opportunity to buy right and left and not just from two big mills in Europe controlling 70% of the market.

Wojtek Laskowski, PLATTS