Turkish mills demand retaliatory duties on EU steel as imports soar

Drawing attention to the 50% rise seen in Turkey’s steel imports in the first quarter – while Turkish mills’ steel exports to the EU region slumped 47% on year – the Turkish Steel Producers Association (TCUD) called upon the Turkish government to impose similar retaliatory duties against EU steel based on the reciprocity principle, saying Eurofer’s recent demand to reduce the EU quotas by 75% due to COVID-19 outbreak has raised the concerns further among Turkish producers.

“We are hoping that the EU’s negative attitudes will not be left unanswered this time,” the TCUD said at a statement sent to S&P Global Platts Wednesday.

Turkey has increased import duties on some finished and semi-finished steel products for a three-month period to protect production and employment in the domestic steel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Platts has reported.

“For the success of these regulations, hopes rise that imports made with zero custom duty within the scope of free trade agreements and inward processing regime will be also brought under control with new measures,” the TCUD said.

According to the latest TCUD data, Turkish mills’ March crude steel output was up by 4.1% year on year to 3.1 million mt. Turkish crude steel output, thus totaled 9 million mt in the first quarter, up 9.6% on year as domestic steel consumption rose 42.3% on year in Q1 to 7.7 million mt.

The significant rise in Q1 steel consumption was mostly satisfied by imports, as Turkey’s overall steel imports rose 33.3% on year to 3.6 million mt.

Turkish mills’ overall steel exports, however, fell 11.6% to 5.1 million ton in that period, while the revenue generated from these exports also declined by 14.4% to $3.6 billion, according to the TCUD.

As the coronavirus outbreak significantly pulled down demand in Turkey as of mid-March and steelmakers and especially longs producers have reduced and even temporarily paused their output one after another in April, a significant decline in Turkish steel output is expected to be seen in fresh data.

According to Ugur Dalbeler, CEO of major Turkish steel producer Colakoglu, Turkish mills’ steel exports shrunk by 25% in April, while mills’ capacity usages fell as low as 45% in a sluggish market. In a television interview, Dalbeler also said due to the shrinkage in domestic and export demand and import pressure, the second quarter could be also difficult for Turkish producers.

— Cenk Can