ASIA A gift from China and the big game after the Games

Feb 01, 2008 | 01:39 PM |

China does not celebrate Christmas on anything like the scale of the West, but it gave the world a festive gift nonetheless in December another serious attempt to reduce the amount of metal leaving its shores. Whether that's the kind of gift that everyone would enjoy finding under the Christmas tree is something that should become clearer as the year wears on.

As global markets were closing down for the holiday period, the Chinese government said Dec. 21 that it would increase export taxes on a range of metal products and commodities effective Jan. 1, 2008. Among the products hit were steel slab, billet, wire rod, tinplate and some stainless products, as well as many ferroalloys and some minor metals.

The adjustments didn't come as a big surprise, despite the government's continuing tendency to announce these kind of changes when it thinks the world might not be looking. Pressure has been mounting on China to curb its export surplus, and steel has been one of the main products targeted by other countries. The government also has a vested interest in cutting exports as it seeks to get its rampant energy use and subsequent pollution under control. The recent appreciation of the Chinese currency suggests that Beijing is less concerned than it once was about the impact that such measures could have on its export-dependent economy.....

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