EUROFER director-general Axel Eggert has stated that while steel made in Europe 'means reliability in trade, stability of properties during processing and safety in the use of the material', the same is not guaranteed where steel imported from China is concerned – especially wire rod, rebar and bar, hot-rolled coil and heavy plate.

According to EUROFER, 'the Chinese government promotes exports of alloyed steels with tax rebates of 9% to 13% on the general export tax of 17%. To get the most tax-beneficial classification as alloyed steels, Chinese steel producers add cheap alloy boron agent to steels specified by the customer as non-alloy qualities. Although the boron quantities are up to twice as high as permitted, Chinese steels are marketed in the EU as unalloyed steels.'

EUROFER claims that boron in steel improves the uniformity of the hardness of the steel. But if weldability and elasticity are required, typically for unalloyed steel, a higher share of boron can be harmful.

With Chinese steel exports to Europe estimated to reach 85Mt this year – a year-on-year rise of 43% – it is thought that Chinese steel products in which boron has been added represents over 50% of the total.

“Not only does China promote exports of its excess steel production by targeted product tax advantages, but Chinese steel qualities also confuse the markets as Chinese producers exploit the export tax regime," claims Eggert. "The EU market surveillance authorities are now required to eliminate the risk of misleading use of the CE mark," he said, adding that steel producers must be protected from exposure to wrongfully declared qualities and the risk of serious economic disadvantages.