NEW YORK Tin
consumers and traders serving the U.S. market have expressed
confusion over revisions to Indonesias recently
introduced tin export rules, with most adopting a wait-and-see
approach as to what these rules might mean for domestic prices
Earlier this month,
Indonesias trade ministry announced plans to relax
impurity limits for tin exportsa move that came just one
week after the country imposed the new regulations in the first
amm.com, July 9).
The new regulations
and subsequent changes have caused "utter confusion" on what
this means for trade and business, one U.S.-based tin alloyer
Initially, refined tin
ingots exported from Indonesia had to contain a minimum of 99.9
percent tin with only 100 ppm (parts per million) lead. On June
28 however, Indonesias trade minister Gita Wirjawan
signed off on a revision that increased the maximum limit for
lead to 300 ppm.
It is still unclear
how the new regulations will impact the U.S. market, especially
since the market has yet to see how the new lead limits will be
enforced, the alloyer said.
Peter Kettle, market
analyst at Hertfordshire, England-based International Tin
Research Institute (ITRI), agreed that enforcing the new rules
will be difficult. "I dont know if anyones really
thought it through. No one I know can tell me how its
going to work," he told AMM.
Consumers in the U.S.
market say they have doubts whether the new export rules or
subsequent revision will have an impact on tin prices or tin
"The market certainly
hasnt cared yet," one foundry source said. "The price has
actually dropped a bit" since the original regulation went into
effect July 1, he said.
Cash tin traded at
$19,305 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange July 15, down
from $19,755 per tonne July 1, despite a brief rise to more
than $20,000 per tonne between July 2 and July 4.
The rationale behind
the regulations, which also stipulate that qualifying tin
ingots may only be shipped by registered exporters approved by
the trade ministry, was to find a way to fetch a higher price
and/or premium for Indonesian tin, Kettle said.
delivered U.S. tin premiums are in a range of $550 to $700 per
tonne, up slightly from $550 to $650 per tonne in June (
amm.com, June 5). but still less than premiums of
between $600 to $750 per tonne reported in April.
accounts for about half of global tin supply, but it is not as
important for the U.S. market, Kettle said. Many U.S. tin
imports come from South American markets, he added.
More than half of U.S.
unwrought, not alloyed, tin imports in the January through May
period came from Bolivia, Brazil and Peru, data from the U.S.
Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade
Commission show. However, the volume of tin coming into the
United States from Indonesia is increasing.
The United States imported 16,707 tonnes tin from January to
May, the data show, 56.9 percent of which came from South
America and 18.1 percent of which hailed from Indonesia. Last
year, the United States imported 16,054 tonnes of tin during
the same period, 62.5 percent of which was from South America
and 12.6 percent of which was from Indonesia.