Eight national and regional associations in the Latin American steel industry published an ‘open letter’ in newspapers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico and Peru calling upon regional governments to act urgently to ensure a level playing field for the steel trade – particularly where China is concerned.

The steel associations concerned were the Latin American Steel Association (Alacero); the Argentine Chamber of Steel; the Brazil Steel Institute (Aco Brasil); Alacero Chile; Fedemetal Chamber and the Colombian Committee of Steel Producers at ANDI; the Mexican Iron and Steel Industry Chamber (CANACERO); and the National Society of Industries (Metal-Mechanic Committee) of Peru.

The key message is simple: That steel arriving from Chinese state-owned enterprises – in conditions that do not apply with WTO rules – is threatening thousands of jobs in Latin America and displacing domestic producers.

The letter calls upon regional governments to take action urgently and asks them to improve customs procedures and align quality standards with those applied to the domestic steel industry. It insists that unfair trading is dealt with efficiently using WTO instruments and argues that ‘commercial diplomacy’ should be employed to compel China and its SOEs to operate under market conditions.

The letter also argues that China should not be recognised as a market economy as the existence of steel overcapacity confirms that it remains a centrally planned economy.