UK steel import quota system still under maintenance; 3 quotas now exhausted

The online monitoring system of UK steel quota allocation remains delayed due to ongoing technical issues, with traders unable to check import quota balances and the Category A quota for large welded pipes now exhausted in the Feb. 1 allocation, according to the UK tax department HMRC.

Since Jan. 6, the failed system has prevented traders from checking the quota balance for imports. Although buyers can still register quota claims for material – and the HMRC have reportedly been quick to respond to traders’ inquiries – there is still no way of determining if a quota has been filled.

The system failure has made trading challenging for many UK-based traders without any other means of monitoring exhausted quotas.

Addressing the filled large welded pipe quota, the HMRC said in a letter: “Any claims made to this quota today will be liable to 25% safeguard duty.”

This quota is now the third to exhaust along with hollow sections from Turkey and the ‘other countries’ category.

Excess volumes on quotas now exhausted will be prorated across all quota claims, with buyer’s liable for paying duties.

The letter also specified there were currently no UK quotas considered “critical,” although the quota for Category 6 Chinese tin mill was now said to be nearing critical status.

“There isn’t a shortcut,” a UK trader told S&P Global Platts. “Simply, they need to keep a reducing balance of tons per quota product so everyone can see what’s remaining and make informed decisions.”

A UK-based mill source said he was not worried about coils just yet as there was “enough quota to go around,” and said if it did turn critical, he would simply wait to clear the volumes in the next quota period in April.

“Not being able to check the coil quota balance is extremely inconvenient,” the source said. “All I can do is hope that something is put into place by the time my next vessel arrives.”

— Amanda Flint