HIGHLIGHTS: China's WTO complaint, HDG trade case in EU, coking coal prices down...

Latin America editor Ana Paula Camargo reviews the main global steel market news covered by Metal Bulletin over the past week.

The December 12-16 working week started with turmoil involving China, the USA and the European Union (EU).
China launched a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), regarding US and EU anti-dumping proceedings.
The action came after a provision in China’s 2001 WTO accession agreement, which allowed other countries to treat it as a non-market economy, expired on December 11.
But the USA said it will not recognise China as a market economy in anti-dumping trade cases for the foreseeable future until it can prove it is operating as a market economy.
European steel association, Eurofer, also said that China remains a non-market economy, “regardless of what it claims about the expiration of a small sub-paragraph of one article in its WTO accession protocol”.
Trade cases
China continues be the target of trade cases around the world.
Argentina started an anti-dumping probe into imports of Chinese welded and seamless pipes.
Meanwhile, the market reacted to the launch of an EU anti-dumping probe into China-origin hot dipped galvanized coil (HDG) last week.
European market sources said that this case will create a shortage of material in the region, as steelmakers do not produce enough material to meet the needs of buyers, but the auto sector is not expected to be affected.
This case also led Chinese export traders to focus their attention on other markets, including Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America.
Meanwhile, the European Council’s permanent representative committee (Coreper) has agreed a negotiating position for the “proposal to modernise the EU’s trade defence instruments [TDI]”, including the lesser-duty rule (LDR), it said this week.
Prices
Iron ore and coking coal prices reported different behaviour this week.
Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index ended the week at $81.49 per tonne cfr Qingdao, after peaking on December 12 at $83.58 per tonne cfr.
Despite this drop, prices continue above the $80-per-tonne mark.
On the other hand, coking coal prices fell over the week as seaborne buyers continued to play the waiting game, with no clarity on where the bottom is for prices.
Metal Bulletin’s index for Australian’s premium hard coking coal was $257.23 per tonne fob on Friday, down from $270.72 per tonne fob on Monday.
Meanwhile, import prices for containerised HMS-grade ferrous scrap in Taiwan rose to a seven-month high this week, to $250-255 per tonne cfr, with supply from the USA still tight and offers from Japan seen as “not workable” for buyers in the island.
Around the world
In China, Wu’an and Tangshan, two major steel-producing cities in China’s Hebei province, have issued red alerts over air pollution, which would affect production from Friday December 16 onwards.
The government of both cities ordered local steel mills to cut their emissions by 50% and re-rollers to temporarily stop production to improve air quality.
In the USA, Nucor has extended its rapid-fire accumulation of US tube and pipe mills, agreeing to acquire Republic Conduit from Tenaris for $335 million.
The Metal Bulletin Research (MBR) team looked at the market for tinplate and tried to predict how it will develop in light of the political and market changes in the North American country.
And miners getting back on track after a disciplined year was the first of Metal Bulletin's annual reviews of the markets.
Finally, in an interview first published in Metal Bulletin magazine, Danieli chairman and ceo Gianpietro Benedetti talked about the steel industry’s “new normal” and how the company is responding to it.

Ana Paula Camargo

Published

Ana Paula Camargo

December 16, 2016

23:30 GMT

São Paulo