Saudi Arabia's National Committee for Steel Industry (NCSI) has raised concerns that the recent US steel tariff will encourage major steel exporters to dump their products to alternative markets.
Trump's new steel tariff will likely have minor direct impact on Middle East. According to the data from US International Trade Administration, USA imported 74,784 tons of Saudi Arabian origin steel mainly consisted of 68,780 tons of Oil Country Goods Tubular products.
But steel exporting countries will be looking for other markets to divert their exports and as a result countries with lower steel import tariff may experience influx of steel products. NCSI fears that regions like Middle East and particularly GCC, are on greater risk due to liberal trade policies and thus authorities will have to take pre-emptive actions to protect the steel sector.
Engineer Rayed Al-Ajaji, Chairperson of the National Committee for Steel Industry, said that authorities will have to implement strict policies to protect steel sector from dumping and unfair competition. He opined that slow moving process in regards to implementation of meaningful policies to block harmful trade practices is a big obstacle in the growth of domestic steel sector. He pointed out the prepainted steel safeguard duty case which has been concluded on April 2017 but so far there is no duty imposition despite the investigation report clearly showed that domestic steel sector suffers material injury from imports.
He stressed that steel industry can play vital role in the realization of Kingdom's Vision 2030, but will need protection from dumping and other harmful international practices.
Abdulaziz Shaheen Al-Dosari, Director of Steel Pipes Unit at the National Committee for Steel Industry, call for increase in import duty from 5 pct to 15pct. He said that seamless pipe industry has suffered gravely in recent times and due to dumping, domestic steel production has gone down drastically.
On the national steel rebar industry, Abdulaziz Al-Hudaib, Vice Chairperson of the National Committee for Steel Industry described the national steel rebar industry as "tremendously agonizing over the past few years, with most operations reduced to below 50pct of capacity, due to the availability of 12.5 mln tons of domestic production capacities, while demand declined to around 6.3 mln tons only". He also urges authorities to increase import duty on rebar from 5 to 15 pct and 5 to 20 pct on rebar in coil. He further added that there should be strict inspection on factories producing substandard rebar not accordance to national specifications in order to create fair business environment.
The National Committee for Steel Industry was recently formed for a term of three years as a strategic national committee concerned with the steel industry. It focuses extensively on supporting and developing the steel industry to elevate it to a level befitting the Kingdom's standing as the only regional member state in the G20. The Committee recently launched its new website as part of its promising agenda.