Vietnam’s imports of Chinese steel rise 62% in Jan-Oct


Vietnam spent US$3.49 billion importing 7.71 million metric tons of steel from China during the ten months, a 39.8 percent increase in value, the customs department said in a report on November 19.
Chinese products accounted for as much as 61.1 percent of Vietnam’s total steel imports in the period.
The Southeast Asian country’s steel imports totaled 12.62 million metric tons and $6.28 billion between January and October, up 34 percent in volume and 0.3 percent in value, according to customs figures.
The average import price then dropped 25.2 percent from a year earlier, so the import value only went up slightly, the customs department explained.
The large imports of Chinese steel are creating huge pressure on and difficulty for Vietnam’s domestic manufacturers, Ho Nghia Dung, chairman of the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA), told The Saigon Times Online on Monday.
China is exporting around 20 million metric tons of steel to Southeast Asian countries on an annual basis, with Vietnam taking 30 percent of that figure.
Vietnam’s steel consumption is forecast to rise 20 percent year on year to seven million metric tons in 2015, thanks to the revitalized realty sector, according to the VSA chairman.
However, competition has become tougher for Vietnamese steelmakers as global steel prices have fallen sharply whereas the domestic market is flooded with cheap imports, he added.
“The VSA has repeatedly called on authorities and relevant agencies to put up technical barriers or take trade remedy action to stop Chinese steel from prevailing in the Vietnamese market,” Dung said.
Vietnamese steelmakers are also hurt by a trick local steel importers employ to dodge import duties.
Vietnam currently slaps a zero tariff on imports of steel alloyed with chromium, whereas the non-alloy products are subject to a nine percent tax.
Many businesses therefore import alloy steel billets with a very small content of chromium to enjoy the tariff exemption.
With the small content of chromium not affecting the quality of the steel billets, businesses can turn them into steel products used for construction, instead of importing the highly-taxed non-alloy steel billets.
In the January-September period, 1.2 million metric tons of alloy steel billets were imported into Vietnam under such a trick, 75 percent of which were from China, according to the VSA.
The association has thus urged the Ministry of Industry and Trade to probe the dishonest steel importers to protect domestic steelmakers.
The ministry last week tasked separate inspection teams with carrying out checks on alloy steel billet importers in Hanoi, Bac Giang Province and Hai Phong City in the north, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in the south, from November 19 to 23.