China's Steel Exports Soar As Industry Warns Against Anti-Dumping Moves

Exports up 81% from last year.

China's steel exports rose steeply in the first nine months as the industry association warned it would actively defend its interests against any anti-dumping measures, state media said Oct. 31. China exported 28.6 million tons of steel products in the January-September period, up 81% from a year earlier according to the China Iron and Steel Association.

"The rapid growth was mainly the result of strong global demand for steel products and much higher prices on the international steel market," said Luo Bingsheng, vice chairman of the association.

International prices have exceeded domestic prices by up to $150 per ton in recent months, encouraging Chinese companies to export. Overseas steel makers have argued that China is suffering from capacity build-up and is now dumping its excess supply on the world markets. China doubled its steel production between 2002 and 2005, and it now accounts for about 30% of global output, according to U.S. estimates.

"We hope our disputes with foreign countries on steel exports will be resolved through dialogue," said Luo. "However, Chinese steel companies will actively respond to any anti-dumping charges to protect our legal interests."

The U.S. saw steel imports from China rise 192% in September from the same month a year ago, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, an organization representing U.S. producer interests. U.S. markets are being impacted not just directly because China exports more steel, but also indirectly, according to the institute's president, Andrew Sharkey. "Countries that were sending their excess capacity to (China) are increasingly seeking alternative markets, such as the U.S.," Sharkey said.

United States Steel Corp., the nation's largest steel maker, last week said China had to do more to prevent its producers from flooding the world markets with their unsold inventory. "If current China production rates continue, and domestic demand falters, China will dump into world markets in great quantities and cause major disruption," said Christopher Navetta of US Steel.

China, which is likely to roll out over 400 million tons of steel and steel products this year, is estimated to have overcapacity of around 100 million tons. While China's steel exports have risen sharply this year, imports of steel products tumbled 29.3% in the first nine months to 14.1 million tons. The China Daily newspaper said the government had introduced measures to curb steel exports, including a reduction in tax incentives, from the middle of September.

China, the world's biggest steel producer since 1996, will also introduce from November a 10% tariff on exports of billets, pig iron and ferro-alloy, according to the newspaper.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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