The commercial behaviour of Chinese steelmakers is the main risk to the productive and financial future of Latin American steel producing companies, argues the Latin American Steel Association (Alacero).

Decreasing prices and rising volumes are cause for concern and this, claims Alacero, is reflected in the increasing number of dumping investigations underway in Latin America.

According to Alacero, Latin America imported 6Mt of finished steel from China at a total value of US$4.04 billion – roughly US$669 per tonne – between July and September 2014. During the same period, China exported 52.7Mt of finished steel to the rest of the world at a value of US$38.3 billion (at an average price of US$728 per tonne).

Alacero claims that Latin America received finished steel from China at an average price 8% lower than the rest of the world.

The biggest Latin American victim of Chinese dumping is Central America, which received products at an average price of US$580/tonne – 20% below the rest of the world and 13% below the Latin American average, Alacero claims. Other Latin American countries receiving Chinese steel at particularly low average prices are Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile.

Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela, on the other hand, have been importing Chinese finished steel ‘at a significantly higher price’ than the rest of the world and higher than the average price paid in Latin America.

Between Q1 2013 and Q3 2014 the volume of Chinese exports to Latin America increased 113% compared to just 70% for the rest of the world. Over the period, the average price for the rest of the world dropped 10%, but in Latin America it dipped 14%.

China’s unfair trade practices concentrated the minds of Latin American steelmakers at the recent Latin American Steel Congress (Alacero-55). Delegates urged leaders of regional industry to work tirelessly to assure a level playing field in compliance with World Trade Organisation guidelines.

In terms of product breakdown, flat products accounted for 67% of Chinese exports to Latin America followed by long products (27%) and seamless pipes (7%).

Here’s some at-a-glance figures:-

• Between January and September 2014 4Mt of flat products were exported to Latin America at a price 18% lower than that paid by the rest of the world.

• Prices in Brazil and Chile were 14% and 19% lower than those paid by the rest of the world.

• Argentina paid an average of US$826/tonne while Ecuador and Peru paid US595/tonne and US$605/tonne respectively.

• Flat products exports from China to Latin America grew by 157% between Q1 2013 and Q3 2014. The flow to the rest of the world increased 85%. During the same period the average price per tonne fell 10% for exports to Latin America and 8% for the rest of the world.