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Brazil’s steel trade defense policies sending mixed signals

Keywords: Tags  Brazilian steel, steel imports, grain-oriented, non-gain-oriented, electrical steel, flat-rolled steel, IABr, MDIC Ana Paula Camargo

SÃO PAULO — The Brazilian government’s attempts to protect its steel industry from high import levels generated mixed signals this year.

While it imposed anti-dumping duties on a range of products following investigations, it didn’t renew increased import tariffs on 100 products from various sectors that were introduced in 2012, a move that surprised the domestic steel institute.

The country’s Chamber of Foreign Trade (Camex) concluded investigations into five cases this year by putting in place anti-dumping duties.

The affected products are non-grain oriented electrical flat steels from China, Taiwan and South Korea; welded austenitic stainless steel pipes from China and Taiwan; carbon steel seamless pipe from China; heavy plates from China, South Korea, Ukraine and South Africa; and austenitic stainless cold-rolled coil from Germany, China, South Korea, Finland, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In November, Brazil also initiated an anti-dumping investigation into imports of alloy steel seamless pipes from China.

Additionally, the federal government has decided to improve its anti-dumping legislation to make it more modern and transparent.

The decree issued in late July replaces previous legislation published in 1995, incorporating important changes to meet contemporary challenges facing Brazilian foreign trade, according to the Brazilian trade ministry MDIC.

Under the new legislation the average length of future anti-dumping investigations will be reduced to 10 months from 15 months, with the deadline for a petition to be reviewed by government authorities now set at 60 days.

Also, it is now mandatory for authorities to issue a preliminary determination.

The Brazilian government aims to ensure that preliminary determinations are made within an average of 120 days after the probe is started, against the previous average of 240 days.

All these measures have been welcomed by local steel institute IABr.

But in August, the Brazilian government decided not to renew increased steel import tariffs introduced in 2012, saying there were now fewer prospects of steel imports causing harm to domestic producers on the back of an unfavorable exchange rate for imports.

Brazil had, in October 2012, imposed higher import duties on 100 products from various sectors, including steel, aluminum and copper.

Steel goods affected included hot-rolled coil, heavy plate, wire rod, stainless steel sheet and coil, alloy bars, grain-oriented silicon steel, pipes and drawn products.

IABr was surprised by the government’s decision to not renew those tariffs, as it believes that the reasons that led to the imposition of the higher import duties had yet to be corrected.

When revising its import forecast for 2013, IABr president Marco Polo de Mello Lopes said that the Brazilian government’s claim didn’t hold water.

IABr now expects steel imports to fall by only 0.5 percent to 3.76 million tonnes compared with an August prediction of a 14.4-percent drop to 3.24 million tonnes.

Brazil has also given up on setting boosting import duties for a second list of 100 products.

Steel goods made up almost one-quarter of the 262 items that were considered for the second list.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.

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