The end of the Indonesian nickel export ban?
The end of the Indonesian nickel export ban?

1 December 2022 – The WTO panel has announced its recommendation on the Indonesian nickel export ban. But has the end of the export ban really come? Indonesia is already showing itself belligerent and the nickel unimpressed. General Disclosure in the EU Stainless Steel Anti-Circumvention Case comes to a clear conclusion.

End of Indonesian nickel export ban in sight?

On 30 November 2022, as expected, the World Trade Organisation found the Indonesian government’s nickel export ban to be inconsistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994). And called on Indonesia to bring the measure into conformity with its obligations under GATT 1994.

Even before the official announcement by the WTO, there had been reports from Indonesia that the Indonesian government would appeal against the outcome. This was confirmed yesterday by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in his opening speech at the National Coordination Meeting on Investment 2022.

He made it clear that Indonesia is not afraid to take legal steps on its way to becoming a developed country. And that Indonesia sees this way in particular in its rich raw material deposits and the processing in its own country. Therefore, the relevant ministries have been instructed to take appropriate action.

European Commission welcomes WTO recommendation

The European Commission (EC) welcomed the decision of the WTO panel in a statement. After all, it is the European Union that would benefit most from a lifting of the export ban.

As things stand, the EU has built up the world’s second highest processing capacities for nickel, cobalt and manganese, according to data from Benchmark Minerals.

It seems that the EC is no longer even bothering to disguise the real reasons. “Give us the raw materials, but we don’t want your more highly processed products.” No wonder, since the EU has no significant deposits of the three so important battery raw materials or does not want to or cannot mine them for pseudo-green excuses.

New EU Waste Shipment Regulation

In view of the upcoming vote of the European ENVI Committee on the new Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR), it simply seems like mockery and derision on the part of the EC to give the finger of warning to a foreign government for the desire of prosperity and development for its own people and at the same time to ban the export of the important raw material scrap in the future. Except, of course, to a few friends in the OECD countries (but please not to Turkey, if the European steel producers’ associations have their way).

What can we learn from the EU?

Developing countries can learn a lot from the European Commission. All it takes is a glance at the EU’s manifold regulations. If you put your export and import restrictions in alternative formulations and slap a bit of alleged environmental protection and moral responsibility towards the world community on top of it, then such a de facto export ban on scrap metal to keep important raw materials in the EU is a Waste Shipment Regulation.

Nickel prices continue to rise unimpressed

Asian nickel prices were unimpressed by the WTO panel ruling and continued their upward trend, rising by more than 2%. Nickel ore prices remain high due to the rainy season. There is already talk that NPI producers may stop production due to high nickel ore costs in China, which would lead to further shortages and rising prices of NPI.

EC Anti-Circumvention Investigation China/Malaysia to make final decision

According to sources familiar with the matter, the EC on Wednesday issued a general disclosure on the anti-circumvention case R777 Stainless steel tube and pipe butt-welding fittings originating in the People’s Republic of China by imports consigned from Malaysia.

Anti-dumping duties of 64.5%

With few exceptions, Malaysian companies have helped to circumvent the anti-dumping measure against stainless steel tube and pipe butt-welding fittings originating in the People’s Republic of China. The EC thus intends to extend the anti-dumping duties of 64.5% to corresponding exports from Malaysia. The final announcement is still pending. Experience shows, however, that there will be little or no change to the EC’s general disclosure.

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