Short Range Outlook : March 2019

Positive mood prevails in global long steel products market despite virus of protectionism

The global long steel products market is currently in a positive mood amid good demand worldwide. Had there not been protectionist actions like additional tariffs, quotas or safeguard measures, the global business scenario would be much better. Protectionism is like a virus, expanding and hurting the international trade environment as we knew it.

Canada and Mexico follow the US and also jump on the protectionist bandwagon

In the Americas, after the US, Canada has also got on the bandwagon though not with the same intensity, and now Mexico has announced that it will be reinstating the 15 percent duty on steel imports. Demand in all three countries is strong, but the benefit goes to domestic mills only.

Canada and Mexico expected to eventually sign USMCA agreement

It seems that Canada will be the first to sign the USMCA (the new NAFTA) agreement, if they agree to a quota to replace the tariffs. Politics in both the US and Canada could delay this: however, it appears that the earliest resolution could happen by late summer. Mexico’s signing of the agreement may be delayed months after the signing by Canada.

US and China appear to be moving closer to a trade deal

On the other hand, the negotiations between China and the US seem to be improving as we read reports saying that they are getting closer to a trade deal. Obviously, the markets in China and Asia are all awaiting news on the China vs US feud.

EU quotas boost domestic markets, strengthening dollar discourages imports

The recently implemented quotas in the EU are having a very positive effect on the EU producers’ capacity utilisation and increasing their margins significantly. In addition, with the US dollar gaining strength against the Euro, imports are even getting less and less attractive which further improves EU producers’ advantage in the market.

Exporters continue to suffer amid uncertainties in the global market

Both US and EU mills still enjoy good business in their respective domestic markets with margins like never before thanks to the tariffs and safeguard measures in place. However exporters continue to suffer due to the uncertainties in the global market. The market players who benefit from fair and free trade are suffering because of protectionism and the current political mood.

Demand for ferrous scrap has recovered since the start of the year

The European, US, Chinese markets are all performing well with strong domestic demand for steel which drives scrap demand. Accordingly, demand for ferrous scrap has returned since the beginning of the year. After seeing bottom levels in December, the long steel products market has started moving in an upward direction since January and is also supported by raw material prices.

Turkish long product steel mills continue to suffer

The global steel market is indeed characterized by a positive mood at the moment, but the Turkish long product mills are still struggling because of protectionism in the global market and the lack of domestic consumption.

Turkish suppliers face shrinking export opportunities

Not many markets are left in which Turkish exporters can conclude business, as both the US and Canadian markets are closed because of duties, and the new quota regime makes it difficult to do business in Europe. The GCC and Far Eastern markets are also out of reach to Turkish suppliers for the moment because of the price gap. The remaining target markets are Central and South America, North and South Africa, Israel and Yemen, but the volume that can be generated from all these countries is quite limited.

Steel mills’ margins still positive though not as good as last year

The good news is that most steel mills globally have positive margins despite all the ups and downs, even though the margins are not as good as last year. Also, despite the increase in iron ore prices, scrap prices have not moved up at the same rate.

Good domestic demand in China continues to keep Chinese exports in check

Chinese exports are still being held relatively in check thanks to good demand in the Chinese domestic market. No downward price trend is expected in the short run in China due to the additional state support for the market. Also, the outlook for a deal with the US will help to keep the Chinese economy on an increasing GDP trend. Expectations for China and the US to reach an agreement on trade tariffs toward the end of March have been driving the financial markets for some time.

Strong competition exists in the international markets not blocked by protectionism

Competition is limited and moderate in most markets due to protectionism, tariffs and quotas. The markets are having to adjust accordingly as the playground is smaller now. There is strong competition in those limited number of markets which are not closed to international market players by protectionism.

Outlook for global longs market still satisfactory despite ongoing instability

The current status of the global long steel products market is perceived as being mostly unstable due to the aforementioned reasons. Having said that and despite all the existing issues, the outlook is still satisfactory, even though it remains challenging.



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