Turkish steel producers, hindered by the U.S. with additional taxes, have turned to the Far East. Having reached $1.3 billion in steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. last year, they now aim to secure the same figure in new markets.
Turkish steel producers have taken action after the U.S. decided to impose heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which disregarded global trade and political balances. The move is incompatible with the Turkish state's serious stance and contrary to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The sector, which started to search for new markets after exports to the U.S. declined by $250 million in the January-July period, are looking at markets in the Far East.
Sector players indicated that the $1.3 billion steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. correspond to 7 percent of total steel exports.
"We will concentrate on the Far Eastern markets against the unjust sanctions of the U.S.," Adnan Arslan, the chairman of the Steel Exporters Association (ÇİB), said. "We will increase our exports to the Far Eastern countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, and to South America. There is high potential in these markets."
Aegean Ferrous and Non-ferrous Metals Exporters Association Chairman Yalçın Ertan stated that 1.9 million tons of exports were made to the U.S. last year, amounting to $1.3 billion. Recalling that in the first six months of 2018, they exported 800,000 tons of steel products worth $720 million, Ertan said with the additional taxes that the U.S. has issued, steel prices have also risen. He added that their steel production does not meet the demand in the domestic market.
Stating that Turkey will head for new markets, Ertan said, "From now on, we can export to west Africa, Central America, South America and Far Eastern countries. The steel production capacity in Turkey is 50 million tons. We can sell the steel we export to the United States anywhere in the world."
The Turkish Exporters Association (TİM), which formed a crisis table in relation to the events, is drawing a road map for the steps to be taken in the legal framework. TİM executives also informed that the issue will be examined by the WTO.
"[Donald] Trump's decision raises panic in buyers in the U.S. They also say that this decision is wrong and will be corrected soon. We are in contact with them. We have initiated the legal process," one TİM official added.
Referring to Trump's hike of import tariffs on Turkish steel by 50 percent and aluminum by 20 percent, a statement released by the Trade Ministry stated that the decisions of the U.S. administrations target both Turkish and American producers. The ministry's statement emphasized that the tariff hikes do not comply with the WTO rules and Turkey expects other countries to abide by these rules.
"The ministry will continue to protect the interests of Turkish steel and aluminum producers and defense their rights on all international platforms, including WTO," the statement read.
Despite the U.S. tariffs on steel, exports in the sector grew by 26.7 percent to $8.4 billion in the first seven months of this year compared to $6.6 billion in the same period of 2017.
In this period, the highest increase in steel sector exports was recorded to Italy $659.9 million. The biggest decrease was seen in steel exports to the U.S. which stands at $552.1 million, a decline of $250.4 million.
Meanwhile, Turkeys ranks second in Europe in terms of production, while it is also included in the top 10 countries in exports. Exporting to 200 countries and ranking eighth in the world in production, Turkey's steel production capacity stands at 50 million tons.
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