Turkish steelmakers call again for protection against EU

Turkish steel output has fallen due to the coronavirus crisis, and so have both imports and exports. With the European Union moving to further restrict imports from Turkey, Turkish steel groups are lobbying for retaliatory measures to balance any impact on the country’s steel trade balance, Kallanish notes.

Turkish crude steel production in April dropped -26.3%% year-on-year to 2.3 million tonnes, with January-April output down -0.1% on-year, according to the Turkish Steel Producers’ Association (TCUD).

April finished steel consumption was 1.4mt, down -44.1% on-year. Consumption had increased by 42.3% in the first quarter, but growth has slowed to 15% in January-April due to the sharp fall in April.

Exports decreased -21.6% in April to 1.5mt, and -27.7% in value terms to around $1 billion, due to the coronavirus impact on the international steel market. January-April exports decreased -14.4% to 6.6mt, and -18% to $4.7 billion.

April imports fell -54.6% to 563,000t, and by -47.8% in value to $504 million. Over January-April, however, due to the 33.3% increase in imports in the first quarter, imports still increased 5.6% to 4.2mt, though by value they were down -4.6% to $3.1 billion.

Over the January-April period, the ratio of exports to imports decreased to 148:100 from 172:100 in the year-earlier period.

Turkey’s January-April steel exports to the EU fell -44.4%, while HRC exports fell -47%. Steel imports from the EU, on the other hand, increased by 6.5%, according to TCUD.

“Despite the current situation with the EU, The European Commission (EC) is continuing its initiatives to prevent steel imports from Turkey,” says TCUD general secretary Veysel Yayan. “Despite the ongoing protectionist measures against Turkish steel, the EU has initiated an antidumping investigation against Turkish HRC on May 14, and Eurofer has applied the commission for a CVD investigation against the same product.”

“Recently, on May 29, in the notification sent by the EU Commission to the World Trade Organization, it is understood that the EU will further restrict the conditions for the coming period, increase its approaches that target our country predominantly, and this will cause our exports to the EU region to decrease significantly,” says Yayan. He underlines the need for an immediate protectionist measure in response from Turkey.

On May 25, to provide balanced foreign trade and minimize the negative effects of EU practices on bilateral trade flow, Turkey announced that for some steel imports from the EU, there will be additional import duties that vary between 9%-17%.

Yayan says that the Finance Minister’s statement regarding a change in imports, excluding products that are not produced locally, are welcomed and gave hope for the future.

“However, as soon as this was announced, we have observed some attempts to invalidate this decision,” says Yayan. He adds, “it is obligatory to stop the companies that want to continue importing for their own benefits, in order to avoid the destruction of our economy and our industry during the most difficult days of our country while world’s most developed countries’ practices are obvious to protect their own industries.“

Global crude steel production decreased -13% on-year to 137mt in April. Four-month production fell -4.1% on-year to 581mt.