IREPAS in Istanbul: Uncertainty prevails in slow market with weak demand

The 89th meeting of IREPAS (the International Rebar Exporters and Producers Association) was held in Istanbul on September 17-19, marking the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the association, in conjunction with the SteelOrbis Fall ’23 Conference. There were 217 representatives from 61 different producers among the 783 registered delegates from a total of 59 different countries. There were also 105 registrations representing 55 different raw material suppliers.

At the opening of the conference, Murat Cebecioglu, chairman of IREPAS, emphasized that the global long products market has been slowing down in general, which is putting pressure on producers. He added that demand for reinforcing bars and wire rods remains very weak and there is strong pressure on prices from the new exporters who are in the market with very aggressive offers and who are not subject to antidumping or countervailing duty measures so far.

The IREPAS chairman said protectionism still prevails as the EU has extended its safeguard measures for another year, which is clear proof that world trade is no longer as it was defined by the Uruguay Round and will continue with its current protectionist structure, which will exert pressure on developing countries. He also added that the CBAM in the EU will replace the current safeguard measures in the region within 12 months.

On the last day of the conference, producers of long steel products, as well as traders and raw material suppliers, shared the conclusions reached at their special committee meetings regarding the current situation in the markets with the general participants at the event.

Raw Material Suppliers at IREPAS: Situation in China exerts huge impact on global market

Jens Björkman, the chairman of the raw material suppliers committee, stated that construction activities in China were slowing down, while steel production remained at high levels despite government restrictions, which has increased the demand for iron ore in the country. The high levels of steel production in China lead to an increase in its exports, negatively impacting the global market. He added that steel production in the country is expected to be cut during the winter season, which may provide a bright spot for the global market going forward, especially for Turkey which is struggling to compete with China’s competitive prices. Noting that the Chinese economy has been struggling for a while, Björkman said that the recent monetary policy easing and stimulus measures in the country to boost the real estate and steel industries will not be enough to boost demand and prices in China.

Looking at Turkey, commenting that domestic production rates are slower than last year due to difficulties such as the high inflation and the hike in interest rates which Turkish mills are facing, he noted that the industry continues to generate demand. However, the production costs from energy are expected to decline, which would positively impact steel production rates.

Focusing on scrap, noting that the US, which still outperforms the rest of the world in economic and business terms, keeps generating decent scrap volumes, while the EU will continue to generate low volumes of scrap, the chairman of the raw material suppliers committee stated that the rising volumes of ex-US scrap supply to Asia were supported by lower container freight rates.

Traders at IREPAS: EU may adjust quotas amid higher long product imports

F. D. Baysal, the chairman of the traders committee, stated that the situation has changed dramatically in the EU steel market due to high interest rates, while investments in construction and consequently steel demand and prices have moved down considerably. Stressing that the EU protects its steel market with safeguard measures, he stated that increased long product imports do not carry as much risk as the surge in flat product imports. He said that the EU may tighten future quota allocations for ‘other countries’ as the long product exports of Egypt and Algeria into the region have increased. In addition, the chairman of the traders committee stated that the subsidies provided under “decarbonization targets” will continue to increase in the  EU, which evaluates the governmental support in the other countries as unfair.Continuing with China, he stated that Chinese steel mills have not reduced steel production in accordance with government restrictions, raising concerns for global suppliers, as China’s exports will increase if its production cannot be utilized domestically. Even though he said he does not believe that Chinese mills will cut production, he added that, if they do so, it will not affect scrap imports but will reduce iron ore demand as 90 percent of the country’s steel production is blast furnace-based.

Noting that the EU continues to put pressure on Russian products with sanctions, Baysal stated that Turkey’s rebar exports have decreased as the country cannot use sanctioned Russian billets to produce products for shipment overseas. Russian billet was at first used in the reconstruction of the earthquake-hit zone in southern Turkey, while now the region’s needs are supplied by domestic production. Noting that Turkey has lost most of its traditional steel export markets, the chairman of the traders committee said that the Turkish industry needs government support as the mills are facing the US Section 232 tariffs and the EU’s safeguard measures.

Producers at IREPAS: Longs market is slowing down amid weak demand 

Murat Cebecioglu, chairman of IREPAS and also chairman of the producers committee, stated that the long steel market has been slowing down amid weak demand which is putting immense pressure on prices. He talked about the general situation in the market, pointing out that previous importers such as Egypt, the GCC and Algeria have now become exporters. Since these countries are not subject to protectionist measures for the time being, they are exporting anywhere they can, especially claiming the market share of Turkey, which is being squeezed by protectionism all over the place, he noted.

Focusing on the Turkish market, Mr. Cebecioglu said there are many unknowns for the future, while protectionism in particular is a big issue for Turkey whose exports are hindered by Canada, the EU and the US. “There are only a few markets left where there is demand and everybody is focusing on those markets,” the IREPAS chairman said. Regarding the Turkish government’s change of monetary policy and starting to raise interest rates, he indicated that this gives hope to the market, though he went on to say that the local market is doing alright, but this will depend on whether the government will continue to increase interest rates.

With Turkey facing some difficulties such as the energy crisis, high production costs and inflation, Mr. Cebecioğlu said that electricity prices are a major factor for Turkish mills and, compared to oil and gas-rich countries, competing has become impossible for Turkey. Replying to a question about possible steps by the government to support the Turkish steel industry, the producers committee chairman pointed out that, under today’s economic conditions, subsidization also leads to another problem, namely, countervailing measures.

Commenting on the longs and semi-finished imports from the ASEAN region, Cebecioğlu said that ASEAN-based mills have been exporting all around the world including to destinations such as Central America, the EU and South America, adding that, together with the newcomers, they have taken all of Turkey’s market shares.

Leave A Comment