European Steelmakers Criticize Chinese Rivals

European steelmakers are planning to file a complaint against Chinese steelmakers for exporting at prices below production cost.

At a conference in Berlin on Oct. 8, which took place under the cloud of a European threat to file an anti-dumping complaint, European steelmakers were sharply critical of their Chinese rivals. Dieter Ameling, president of the German Steel Federation, confirmed that European producers were preparing to file a complaint against China with the European Commission alleging that Chinese steelmakers are exporting at prices below production cost.

European producers accuse Chinese factories of failing to respect the environment, making poor quality steel and complain that the Chinese market is still largely state-run with heavy subsidies. "It is a situation of state-run production, while in the rest of the world steel is produced by private companies designed to create value," said Karl-Ulrich Koehler, the head of Germany's ThyssenKrupp Steel, the world's tenth-biggest producer.

Ameling said that "instead of exporting the steel that is produced in China at great cost to the environment, it would be better if the Chinese withdraw their polluting products from the market."

"By 2010, the iron and steel enterprises will be decreased greatly in number and the production of the top 10 enterprise groups in the country will make up over 50% of gross crude steel production in China," said Zhang Xiaogang, Chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association.

The International Iron and Steel Institute, which is hosting the conference, said in its latest forecast on Oct. 8 that global demand for steel will keep growing next year in response to strong economies in China, Africa and the Middle East. IISI expected steel demand to grow by 6.8% this year and by around the same level in 2008, slightly more than a forecast earlier this year.

China, which was still the world's biggest importer of steel in 2004, has become the world's biggest exporter three years later and accounts for 34% of the world's steel production.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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