Trade bodies in stand-off over quality of China steel imports into EU

The international body for steel traders and the UK’s own steel industry trade organisation are in dispute over the quality of Chinese steel imports arriving in Europe.

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Chinese structural steel does not fully comply with European standards, according to Ian Rodgers, director of British trade organisation UK Steel.

The integrity of the steel products was most likely to be affected when the material was welded, and this was related to the quantities of boron or chrome which Chinese mills add to their steels so that they can benefit from export tax rebates, Rodgers said.

“The problems with welding boron-alloyed and chrome-alloyed steel are well-documented in the technical literature. We have heard of an increasing number of customers complaining about incidents involving cracks on welding,” Rodgers told Steel First.

“It is an offence to place on the market a CE-marked product knowing that it does not comply with the relevant standard,” Rodgers said, “[so] there are potential legal implications in the case of structural steels.”

However, allegations of non-compliance with European standards were dismissed by the International Steel Traders Assn (ISTA).

“ISTA members are confident that the Chinese flat rolled products [plate and coil] they are supplying are of sound quality and compliant with the relevant EU product standards,” the association said.

Assertions of technical non-compliance, ISTA explained, were incorrectly based on a review in isolation of table 1 in the EN 10020: 2000 standard.

The correct approach, ISTA said, was to consider the EN 10020: 2000 standard as a whole and, in particular, the clauses relating to composition requirements.

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