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US 232 could redirect 13 million mt of steel to Europe

  • Source: platts
  • Mar.13,2018

As much as 13 million mt of steel could be redirected to the European Union if the US applies its Section 232 tariff plan on the trading bloc, European Steel Association President Geert Van Poelvoorde said Monday.

The European Commission "cannot sit still and not prepare," but must act to safeguard the domestic steel industry, Van Poelvoorde said at a press conference, noting he hoped the EC can react with measures within a month.

"Europe will suffer through increased imports, or trade deflection, since it is a reasonable assumption that the imports deflected by the US will seek a home in Europe," Van Poelvoorde said. The EU already saw 40 million mt of imports land in 2017, which was a new peak. This is, in fact, higher than the 35 million mt that arrived in the US. EUROFER estimates that section 232 could lead to a further 13 million mt coming to Europe -- and this is a conservative estimation."

EUROFER Director General Axel Eggert explained the calculation took into account that the US imports 26 million mt of steel, excluding deliveries from Canada and Mexico, which could be exempt from the tariffs. 

"Most of that will have to look for new destinations, so we made an estimation that at least half of that will have to find a new market," Eggert said. "The EU is an open market, naturally the EU will be the next market. It could be 13 million mt, it could be eight million mt, either way it will be catastrophic."

While the calculations assume significant production increases in the US market, Van Poelvoorde pointed to the restarting of the US Steel blast furnace in Granite City, Illinois, as well as the new Nucor micro mill in Florida, both of which have happened prior to the tariffs even taking effect.

Eggert noted the recovery of the European steel industry has only lasted a year, and the possibility of a flood of exports would be "catastrophic."

"We cannot let President Trump destroy the moderate recovery we have," he said.