NEW YORK Domestic rebar mills believe that Turkish rebar producers are manipulating the chemistry of rebar delivered to the United States in order to lower the volume of imports watched closely by U.S. producers and avoid a trade suit, but Turkish producers firmly deny the accusation.
"The Turks were trying to hide volumes in ways that would not necessarily jump out. It would appear they deliberately adjusted the chemistry to avoid the shipments being captured in SIMA (Steel Import Monitor Analysis) data," said an industry source close to the situation.
Through June of this year, 13,613 tonnes of Turkish alloy rebar entered the United States, according to U.S. Customs Bureau data. Though relatively modest, the shipments mark the first time Turkey has exported material to the United States classified as such. The material arrived in Houston in several bulk shipments in March, May and June in volumes of 4,895 tonnes, 5,541 tonnes, and 3,132 tonnes respectively. Two much smaller shipments of 104 tonnes and 46 tonnes arrived in New Orleans in March and New York in April.
Alloy rebar is not a customary steel product and it is unlikely that U.S. rebar buyers intentionally purchased alloy rebar, sources said.
"I dont think this was an accident," said the industry source. "This was a deliberate attempt to spike it."
Domestic producers have discussed filing a trade case against Turkey since early this year (amm.com, July 9), claiming that Turkish producers have dumped rebar in the United States at below production cost. If large quantities of rebar were being categorized incorrectly as alloy rebar, building such a case against Turkey would be more difficult.
Turkish rebar producers questioned by the Turkish Steel Producers Association (TSPA) stated flatly they do not mix alloys into their rebar.
"Turkish steelmakers are not exporting such material to the United States," Veysel Yayan, secretary general of the Turkish Steel Producers Association told AMM.
Yayan dismissed the notion that there was an intentional scheme among Turkish producers to circumvent U.S. import data and avert a trade case, saying that the volumes being imported are too negligible to be part of a concerted scheme to avoid import data.
"It (the volume of shipments) is only around 2 percent (of our total rebar exports to the U.S.). It does not affect anything. This is not a realistic commitment," he said. "We are exporting 10 millions (each year). 10,000 tons is nothing."
Less than 5 percent3.2 percent to be exactof the total 421,852 tonnes of rebar Customs reported was imported into the U.S. from Turkey through the first six months of this year was classified as alloy rebar.
When rebar is imported from Turkey or other offshore sources, the foreign producer describes the product in its mill certification, then the importer of record labels the shipment as a particular Harmonized Tariff Schedule number. Most Turkish material is imported as carbon rebar or coiled carbon rebar. Some Turkish rebar, however, is entering the United States labeled with the number 7228308010, or "concrete reinforcing bar of other alloy steel", which does not appear on SIMAs public import data as rebar.
"What theyre actually trying to do by using entries of alloyed bar is lower the numbers," a mill source charged. "Theyre trying to hide some of the volume thats being reported as rebar."
Domestic mill sources said they were uncertain what extra elements were being added to spike the rebar, but suggested it could be copper or boron and acknowledged that the imports likely meet domestic American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) quality standards.
Two traders who regularly buy Turkish material said they had not imported alloy rebar from Turkey.
"The contention that they do it in a certain way that we dont have to declare it as rebar is absurd. We import rebar at the same grade and the same chemistry as always, and we declare it as rebar," said one of the traders. "Im not aware of any scheme that was cooked up to change the chemistry."
Domestic sources said that though the tonnages of alloy rebar were small, they could eventually accumulate and make it harder to build a trade case against Turkey.
"Its standard rebar, but the spike is done to try to hide and take it out of the carbon classification, for litigation purposes," said the industry source.