Turkish steel exporting body calls on EU to stop ‘double standards’ on trade rules

Ugur Dalbeler, the CEO of Turkish steel producer Colakoglu and deputy chairman of the Turkish Steel Exporter Association, has called on the EU to stop holding what he called “double standards” in terms of its trade rules, particularly regarding steel imports.

Speaking to S&P Global Commodity Insights on the sidelines of the EUROMETAL conference held in Istanbul this week, Dalbeler said: “On our exports to the EU… [importers need] a declaration from us that there is no input from Russia in our steel. But on the other hand, as you know, the EU have allowed their own users to import Russian slabs until 2028 and also Russian pig iron and Russian ferro-alloys.”

Colakoglu has an electric arc furnace mill in Dilovasi, western Turkey, which makes slab for a hot-rolling mill and billet for producing rebar. It currently has a rebar output capacity of 600,000 mt/year, and HRC production capacity of 3 million mt/year. In July, the company increased its hot-rolled coil production capacity to 4.5 million mt/year, although it did not use all of this.

“This year the company’s goal is to use our full capacity, but then we will need the slabs. We are not buying them from Russia but mainly from Brazil and southeast Asia,” he said, adding that for this year his company will focus also on higher-value products.

“We are aiming to produce niche value-added products rather than going for commercial grades, targeting oil and gas, manufacturing and automobile industry,” Dalbeler said.

With regard to the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, Dalbeler said that if the European Commission were to impose the carbon tariff “in a fair way” Turkey would have an advantage in terms of its shipments to the bloc, as its steel producers all use EAFs.

According to Dalbeler, 50% of the energy produced in Turkey comes from renewable energy, with the country now also starting to build its first nuclear power plant.

“What I want is to have a friendly and mutual understanding on issues between the EU and Turkey,” he told S&P Global. “Total imports for example for HRC into the EU from all countries were up by 5% in 2023, but Turkish exports into the EU of HRC were down by 80% and Turkey is part of the ECSC [European Coal and Steel Community], while the other countries who replaced Turkey to date are not member of the ECSC, and their emissions are even five times more than those of Turkey.”

Author: Annalisa Villa, annalisa.villa@spglobal.com