Turkey might take measures to counter the United States' Section 232 import tariffs, economy minister Nihat Zeybekçi said on Saturday May 12.
The US imposed a global 25% duty on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports after concluding its Section 232 trade investigation but announced temporary exemptions for the European Union, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Canada.
Turkey is not on the exemption list, Zeybekçi said, but the Middle Eastern country has a trade deficit with the US. It exported steel worth $1.2 billion to the US in 2017 but the value of its imports from the same country totaled $1.3 billion, he said.
Turkey is the sixth-largest steel exporter to the US, he added.
“We told [the US government] very clearly that Turkey should be kept out [of the Section 232 process]. We also made attempts [to gain an exclusion] by applying to the World Trade Organization [WTO]. Very recently, we told them that we will take counter steps,” Zeybekci said.
“Our arguments regarding counter steps will be similar to those of the US. We can do this very quickly. After that, we can enter a period that will negatively affect the US more [than it will affect Turkey] in terms of the trade between [the countries]. We are leaving all the doors open,” he said.
The Turkish ministry of economy started an investigation into the effects of steel imports on the country’s domestic steelmaking industry in April.
Turkey’s steel exports to the US totaled only 435,000 tonnes in January-April 2017, down 48.3% year on year, according to Turkish steel exporters’ association ÇIB.
Steel prices in the US started to increase too quickly after the announcement of the new import duty, a Turkish flat steel trader said.
Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for exports of Turkish origin hot-rolled coil was $615-620 per tonne fob on May 11, while the daily index for US domestic hot-rolled sheet was $879.20 per tonne fob on May 10.