EghtesadOnline: Iran’s largest producers of flat steel is nonchalant in the face of European threats to limit Iranian steel imports, as Mobarakeh Steel Company enjoys a diverse range of products and export destinations.
The Brussels-based steel lobby group Eurofer, whose members account for more than a quarter of European Union iron and steel products, declared on February 16 that Iranian steel exports had become a “threat” to European markets.
The group and its members seem startled by the latest data showing Iranian exports, especially hot-rolled coil shipments, growing nearly eightfold between 2013 and 2016 to just over 1 million tons annually, placing Iran third behind India (1.9 million tons) and China (5.7 million tons).
“We have other markets and we do not just export HRC. MSC’s other exported products include cold-rolled, galvanized, tin-plated and color-coated coils,” MSC's Managing Director Bahram Sobhani was quoted as saying by Bourse Press.
According to Financial Tribune, the hot-rolled coil market in Europe is worth about $11.1 billion. The key product is used in everything from auto manufacturing to construction and is monopolized by companies like ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp.
"Other countries facing EU’s preventive measures include China and India," said Karl Tachelet, external relations and trade director at Eurofer.
The group had also accused Russia, Ukraine, Serbia and Brazil of dumping back in August 2016.
Sobhani noted that the lobby group’s comments do not sit well with European steel consumers, as “European automakers and other downstream producers using Iranian steel have voiced their opposition to Eurofer’s decision”.
The European Commission has up until April to decide whether to impose anti-dumping duties for six months and after 15 months decide whether to apply “definitive” levies for five years.
According to deputy minister of industries, mining and trade, Mehdi Karbasian, Iran is preparing to fight its case, having hired an attorney to counter the dumping allegations.
Together with its subsidiaries, MSC is the largest flat steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa and Iran’s largest steelmaker, accounting for 1% of Iran’s GDP. The company accounts for approximately 50% of the country’s total steel output and also holds around the same share of domestic flat steel consumption, which stood at around 7.5 million tons in the last fiscal year (March 2015-16). MSC produced around 5.5 million tons of flat products during the period.
Iran's top steel export markets in Europe during the eight months to November 20 were Italy, Spain and Belgium. Italy accounted for 486,000 tons valued at $265.7 million, Spain for 144,000 tons valued at $107.4 million and Belgium for 37,000 tons valued at $34.8 million.
By the end of 2015, Iran’s steel output stood at 16.1 million tons, putting it 14th among steel-producing countries, according to the World Steel Association.
Iranian Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade figures show output rose to 18 million tons in 2016 and the government plans to become the world number six by boosting output capacity to 55 million tons per year by 2025. This would place Iran well above Turkey (ranked ninth in the world with 31.5 million tons in 2015), which presently out-produces all Middle East countries.
If that grand ambition is achieved, Tehran would expect the industry eight years from now to be exporting 20-25 million tons per year, far exceeding what is shipped now. Official figures show approximately 4.4 million tons of crude steel and steel products were exported in the 10 months to January 19, marking a 45% year-on-year growth.