Wednesday, July 5, 2017

FOCUS: Is Iran the new China for steel billet?

Juan Weik  

META BULLETIN - July 05, 2017  

Iranian steel billet has been quietly gaining market acceptance in Southeast Asia because of its low prices, just as it happened with China-origin product a few years ago, but can it dominate the region?

In the past several months, transactions involving Iranian billet had been concluded on and off in Southeast Asia – the world’s largest import region for the semi-finished steel product – at $10-15 per tonne below prices of cargoes of other origin. Until recently, Thailand was the only country that regularly imported billet from Iran in this part of the world. But the low prices of cargoes from the Middle Eastern country have piqued the interest of buyers in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia. "It’s just too cheap to ignore," one buyer source in Southeast Asia told Metal Bulletin. This is strikingly similar to the story of Chinese billet, which first attracted the attention of a handful of importers in the Philippines around the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 before spreading to the entire region, displacing shipments from South Korea, Russia and other countries in the process. Loopholes The similarities between Chinese...