HIGHLIGHTS: EC trade policy, Brazil, Australia iron ore debate...

Editor Vera Blei looks at the main news covered by Steel First over the past week.

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Trade policy updates featured highly across all regions.

China's cold rolled coil (CRC) market could be significantly affected by the European anti-dumping probe into imports of the product, as news of the first cancelled order emerged.

European buyers were holding back from purchasing, even though offer prices from China were described as “workable” by market participants.

US investment bank Jefferies called on the European Commission to look beyond niche products and focus on hot rolled coil (HRC) imports from China and Russia.

The Indian government has closed loopholes in its quality control order to stop imports that are not compliant with the regulation.

The country’s new pre-shipment inspection (PSI) regulations will become effective on July 1, Zain Nathani, vp of the Metal Recycling Assn of India (MRAI), told delegates at the annual global meeting of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) in Dubai.

Morocco imposed a 22% duty on imports of CRC, coated coil and sheet steel.

The US Commerce Department has assessed preliminary anti-dumping duties on US imports of welded linepipe from South Korea and Turkey.

The Colombian government has decided not to renew a safeguarding duty on imports of drawing wire rod, after a review process.

Brazil

Brazilian flat steel producer Usiminas announced that it will temporarily halt operations at two of its blast furnaces because of weak market conditions.

Analysts said that the decision is an indicator of weaker-than-expected demand in the local steel market.

The decision came in a week in which Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and China’s prime minister Li Keqiang created a $50 billion fund for Chinese investments in infrastructure projects in Brazil.

Chinese investment firm Beijing Huiquan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Brazil’s north-eastern Maranhão state government for the potential construction of a steel plant in the region.

Brazilian miner Vale signed a memorandum of MoU with Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) for co-operation on global financing arrangements.

The company also recently entered into a new $3-billion syndicated revolving credit facility with a banking consortium comprised 24 global banks.

Around the world

In Australia, the debate about the market impact of the glut of iron ore produced by the major miners simmered on.

BHP Billiton’s ceo Andrew Mackenzie earlier in the week branded an inquiry into Australia’s iron ore industry as “unnecessary” as it sends the “wrong signal” to international customers about the country’s commitment to free trade.

The government then decided not to proceed with the inquiry, which prompted Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) chairman Andrew Forrest to announce that he would continue to bring issues related to the collapse in iron ore prices to the attention of the Australian people.

In the USA, Andrew Harshaw, president of ArcelorMittal USA Flat Carbon said in a blog posting that ArcelorMittal’s operations in the USA have lost an average of $293.8 million every year since 2010.

“Our US business is not getting return on its investment,” he said.

In Asia, electric arc furnace (EAF) operators should move into producing mid- and high-grade steel to better compete against blast furnace mills, Joseph Yong, group executive vp at the city state’s NatSteel Holdings, Singapore’s sole steelmaker, said.

And finally, we conducted an interview with Young-Jin Chan, head of base and ferrous metals at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) who said that the exchange is looking to build on the “good momentum” seen in its iron ore derivatives contracts.

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