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Steel Exports Begin to Slow down in May
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China's steel exports have started slowing down as a result of the government's control measures, according to the latest industry data.

Overseas shipment of Chinese steel products stood at 6.17 million tons last month, down from 7.16 million tons in April, show figures from China Iron & Steel Association.

This is the first month-on-month slide this year.

In the first five months, steel product exports surged 110.9 percent year-on-year to 27.44 million tons. But the pace was down from 132 percent in the first four months.

Meanwhile, growth of China's steel billet exports decelerated to 75.1 percent from 92.2 percent.

Chen Xianwen, an official from the steel association in Beijing, told China Daily: "The slowing exports indicate the government's curbing measures are beginning to show."

China, the world's top steel producer since 1996, has taken a raft of measures since last year to tame skyrocketing exports and mitigate trade conflicts with other countries.

On June 1, the nation levied 5-10 percent export tariffs on 82 categories of steel products and upped duties on overseas shipment of another 19 categories to 15 percent from 10 percent.

The move came less than two months after China cut tax rebates on overseas shipment of 76 categories of steel products to 5 percent from 8-11 percent and eliminated tax rebates on another 83 categories.

Chen said these measures are making domestic steel mills "more rational" in the foreign market. The export pace will slow down further in the second half of this year because of the government's curbs, he said.

"However, we should be vigilant as slowing exports will add to supply in the domestic market and bring down steel prices, which will possibly spur producers to raise exports again later this year."

Dumping and subsidy accusations against domestic steelmakers are growing from other countries because of swelling imports of steel products from China.

Last week, six steel pipe makers and the United Steelworkers union in the US appealed to the US Commerce Department to impose anti-dumping charges of up to 88 percent and extra countervailing duties on steel pipes from China that they claimed are being sold at unfairly low and subsidized prices. But Chinese steel pipe companies have refuted the accusation.

Crude steel production in China climbed 19.97 percent year-on-year to 195.62 million tons from January to May. The growth slackened from 21.19 percent in the first four months.

The steel association predicted earlier this year that 2007 production will reach 462-475 million tons, up from 419 million tons last year.

(China Daily June 15, 2007)

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