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Steel producers question China’s market economy ambitions

Czech Republic – As emphasised at the BIR’s late-October world recycling convention in Prague, external pressure is mounting on China over its low-priced steel exports.

Nine leading steel producer bodies from Europe and the Americas have issued a joint statement in which they dismiss claims from China that it should be automatically accorded treatment as a market economy after the fifteenth anniversary of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2016. The Chinese steel industry is ‘the predominant global contributor’ to the overcapacity ‘crisis’ afflicting the world steel industry, they insist.

China’s ‘overwhelmingly state-owned and state-supported’ steel industry has an overcapacity of 336 to 425 million tonnes which is expected to grow in the coming years and is already resulting in exports that are on track to exceed 100 million tonnes this year. ‘Provisions allow WTO members to treat China as a non-market economy country unless the government of China or Chinese producers can show that they operate under market economy conditions,’ the statement reads.

‘Given the continuing significant role of the Chinese government in many key aspects of the Chinese economy, and especially in its state-owned and controlled steel sector, there can be no question that China remains very much a non-market economy today.’ At the BIR convention in Prague, China’s billet exports at ‘ever-decreasing prices’ were said to be the main factor behind the recent slump in ferrous scrap values.

The statement is endorsed by: the American Iron and Steel Institute; the Steel Manufacturers Association; the Canadian Steel Producers Association; Mexican steel association Canacero; Latin American steel association Alacero; European steel association Eurofer; Instituto AcoBrasil; the Specialty Steel Industry of North America; and the Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports.

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