US ruling on tariffs could improve trade relations: Turkish steelmakers

Turkish producers have welcomed The US Court of International Trade’s (CIT) July 14 ruling that US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose additional duties on imports of Turkish steel under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 was in violation of the law, saying this decision could contribute to trade relations between the countries.

“The US court’s latest decision once again approved that additional duties imposed on imports of Turkish steel were against objective law rules, and were politically motivated,” Veysel Yayan, general secretary of Turkish Steel Producers’ Association (TCUD), told S&P Global Platts on July 15.

President Trump raised Turkey’s steel tariff rate from 25% to 50% in August 2018 under Section 232, amid increased political tension between the countries due to the detention of a US religious leader. Turkey’s tariff rate on steel was later dropped back to 25% in May 2019, amid some developments in relations between the countries.

“The duties which were paid unfairly in that ten-month period should be refunded following the US court’s latest decision,” Yayan told Platts, adding that the US should also lift Section 232 tariffs on Turkey, like a few other countries, to reach the goal of $100 billion in trade between the countries, previously set by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump.

As the court’s decision also removed the concerns of Turkish producers and US importers about another tariff increase in new dealings, the general secretary is expecting a recovery in steel trade between the countries.

Some recovery in Turkish mills’ steel shipments to the US have already been seen this year. Turkish mills’ rebar exports to the US reached 226,750 mt in the first five months of 2020, sharply higher than just 18,400 mt exported in the same period of 2019, Platts observed from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) data.

Turkish mills’ rebar shipments to the US fell to just 108,300 mt in all of 2019, down from 305,800 mt in 2018, due to the Section 232 tariff, as reported.

The general secretary of TCUD also told Platts on July 15 that he is pretty sure customs duties could be soon impose on steel imports from the EU in response to the EU’s imposition of additional measures against imports of Turkish steel. “The Turkish government stated its intention about it,” he said.

Turkey informed the World Trade Organization on May 25 about possible duties against EU steel, as Platts has reported. But no presidential decree about it has been published yet, despite Turkish steel producers’ demands.

— Cenk Can