Traders, stockholders fret over trade barriers

Lex Coenen of Dutch service centre Noviostaal

Independent distributors of steel – traders and stockholders — are likely to be the first to suffer from international trade restriction measures, according to speakers at a EUROMETAL meeting earlier this month attended by Kallanish.

“I spoke to colleagues in Germany and Spain, and most independents are afraid of duties,” said Lex Coenen of Dutch service centre Noviostaal. The safeguard measures by the US and the EU protect the mills, but not independent steel service centres (SSC), which “…cannot compete if we have to pay duties,” he said. His company has customers in the US and recently sold to Pakistan and Israel, he added.

Coenen spoke of one occasion when Noviostaal made a purchase from a mill for one of its downstream customers. “Two days later, the same guy who sold us the material went to that customer and said, ‘why don’t we supply you directly?’” He said. However, the customer preferred to stay with the SSC that had served him for years.

Julian Verden of Stemcor

Regarding the role of the trader, Julian Verden of Stemcor reminded of the administrative burdens to stay on top of the international game, of the regular updating of regulations, of lobbying. “You need to have someone to be educated and prepared for all the paperwork, and it takes time,” he underlined. Especially now in times of irritations in trade policy, “…if you have 70% from EU mills, and 30% from imports, as a stockholder you can’t manage that, and that’s the role of the trader,” he maintained.