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Steel export surge not all it appears
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The surge in China's steel exports, which rebounded to a record last month, should be a one-off event and may not lead to tightened tax hurdles in the short term, analysts said.

The world's largest steel producer has cut tax rebates and increased duties on steel exports to help curb the overall trade surplus and discourage production of low value-added steel for shipments. Shipments are strong because international prices are higher than domestic prices.

China's steel-product exports rose to 7.21 million tons in July, up 38 percent from June and 21 percent from a year earlier, Customs data showed this week.

This followed a dip in June's shipments and surpassed the old record of 7.16 million tons in April last year, when mills and traders rushed to book export orders before export tax hikes took effect.

Several industry sources said the deferred exports of June's alloy steel may help explain July's surge.

Some exporters use a loophole in the tax regulations by adding a tiny amount of boron, a chemical element that could provide extra strength, to their products to escape the export duty levied on ordinary steel products and even earn a 5-percent tax rebate as now the products could be classified as alloy steel.

In a move to crack down on such behavior, China has launched tighter port checks.

The northern Tianjin Port launched a two-week campaign to check alloy steel in June, which forced at least 700,000 to 800,000 tons of alloy steel being kept in the harbor until July, Xinhua news agency quoted Umetal.com analyst Zhang Ping as saying.

Analysts also said the July steel surge, coming alongside the acceleration of the total exports growth rate, may not suggest an uptrend going forward.

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