Tag Archives: China Iron and Steel Association

The Battle For China’s Steel

The Economic Observer says the investigation into the leaking of China’s negotiating position at the iron-ore price negotiations earlier this year that has resulted in the detention without charge of four Rio Tinto employers has widened to include Baosteel, the largest steel company. (China Daily has reported that all 16 of the leading steel mills are implicated, though this remains unconfirmed.)

The Economic Observer also lays out the way the government stepped in to take control of this year’s annual price negotiations, dissatisfied that the individual companies were consistently getting the worse of each year’s deal, with the consequent impact on the economy of higher steel prices. By having the China Iron and Steel Association handle a collective negotiation, the government thought it could hold a tougher line on prices and stop the negotiating tactics leaking out by cutting the steel companies out of the picture. But what the Economic Observer suggests is that it was not price but quota size that mattered most to the larger steel mills. So secret side deals that have always taken place between the mills and the miners continued, and with them the mutually back-scratching relationships necessary to facilitate them. So in what has become a political power battle between government and the state-owned steel mills, officials are cracking down in the only way they know how, hard.

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Flat Output Will Help Steelmakers Strike Better Iron Ore Deals

Confirmation of the problems in the steel industry comes from Shan Shanghua, secretary general of the China Iron and Steel Association (here via People’s Daily).

He says production will be flat this year at 500 million tonnes, revising the association’s previous forecast of 5%-10% growth. Nor does he expect output to grow next year. The world wide economic slowdown is to blame (see “Baoshan Steel Will Cut Prices, Again, As Demand Slumps“).

Shan was speaking at a conference in Qingdao that unofficially kicks off the annual price contract between Chinese steelmakers and their iron ore suppliers. As well as negotiating down record prices, the steelmakers want to overhaul the way prices are negotiated to unify the prices of imports from all countries, as Japan’s steelmakers do. The stalling of production growth, which has left 80 million tonnes of iron ore stacked up at Chinese ports, will give China’s steelmakers a stronger hand in those discussions.

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