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Export Licenses Slapped on Steel Industry
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In an industry-specific attempt to rein in exports, China's Ministry of Commerce will apply a new export license mechanism on 83 steel products. Coming into effect on May 20, this move will aim to curb both expanding steel exports and the trade surplus.

The ministry has put forward a joint notice along with the General Administration of Customs naming the 83 steel products including cold-rolled sheets, hot-rolled steel rolls and plates. The notice also specifies that the license system only stretches to general trade.

The first quarter saw China export 14.13 million tons of steel products in the first quarter, up 118.4 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs. For March, the total stood at 5.38 million tons exported, only marginally less than the monthly record high of 5.55 million tons seen last December.

In previous moves aimed at slashing its trade surplus, on April 15 China removed exports tax rebates on 83 steel products and lowered the same rate to just 5 percent on 76 others.

The surplus has been an oft-felt thorn in China's side of late as it soared to US$46.44 billion in the first quarter, nearly double its level at the same period last year.

Further benefits of such moves, particularly in lieu of the steel industry's pollution-intensive nature, will be seen in helping the government secure its energy saving and pollution control goals.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2007)

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