ISTA to meet UK govt on Tata Steel import concerns

UK steel trade body International Steel Trade Association (ISTA) will be meeting the government to discuss the issue of UK steelmaker Tata Steel importing significant volumes of Indian HRC to supply its own production, filling up the country’s import quotas.

ISTA had called for an immediate solution to make it possible for UK buyers to import Indian material. Sources close to the matter told S&P Global Commodity Insights Aug. 3 that the UK government agreed to meet the trade body in September to discuss the matter.

In the July 27 letter seen by S&P Global that was sent to members late-Aug. 3, ISTA claims that the repeated steel orders by Tata Steel UK could be seen as “an unfairly attempt to manipulate the free market.”

“Like all UK steel producers, Tata benefits from the protection of the Safeguard Measures quota system, but it cannot be considered as fair trading practice to then take up that quota thus preventing importers from supplying their own customers,” the letter said.

“Steel already booked and currently on the water to the UK, destined for independent service centres and manufacturing, will not be able to be customs cleared and utilised – a fact Tata Steel know only too well,” ISTA said in the letter, warning that the lack of import opportunities would have a “devastating and immediate effect on steel manufacturing.”

ISTA suggested several options to resolve the matter: to either create a new import category code for Tata Steel’s own domestic use or changing the quota to be utilized for its intended imports and end-user customers. Another possibility would be to increase the quota volume for the other country category, under which Indian material falls.


Tata Steel to receive new order in Sep


Tata Steel has a 22,000 mt order of Indian HRC arriving in September for clearance under the quota period starting Oct. 1. The quota is expected to exceed immediately, sources said. The company is also said to have received a previous order of Indian material in June to support production of its Port Talbot works while it faced production problems.

Although it is understood that Tata has not received material in the current quota period July 1 to Sept. 30, the quota nevertheless is likely to be exhausted soon. There are 1,105 mt left under the other country quota as of Aug. 3, which means it is considered “critical” where a 25% duty deposit has to be paid. The opening balance was 22,837 mt.

Tata Steel UK declined to make an immediate comment on the matter when contacted Aug. 3 after usual office hours.

In an earlier statement July 27 to S&P Global, a spokesperson had said: “Tata Steel, like most other steelmakers, sometimes complements its own production with supplies from other sources to balance its utilisation of downstream businesses.”

The Platts weekly assessment for UK HRC was at GBP615/mt DDP West Midlands Aug 3, stable week on week, according to data from S&P Global.

Author Laura Varriale