Nickel export ban: Will the EU cave in to Indonesia?
Nickel export ban: Will the EU cave in to Indonesia?

6 June 2024 – Does the EU have its back to the wall on nickel? According to Indonesian media reports, the EU appears to be slowly caving in to the Indonesian nickel export ban, leading to the suspicion that it is desperately seeking suppliers and other sources are threatening to dry up. And China imported more than 32% more ferronickel in the first four months of 2024, while nickel ore remains in short supply.

Is the EU caving in to Indonesia’s nickel export ban?

The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic of Indonesia, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, told Indonesian media on Wednesday that the European Union appears to be starting to cave in to the nickel export ban imposed by the Indonesian government in 2020.

Indonesia and EU at loggerheads for years over export ban

The Indonesian export ban on the important raw material had been challenged by the European Union before the World Trade Organisation. Although the EU won the case at first instance, Indonesia passed the case on to the next higher instance, which has not been able to reach a decision for years due to the lack of WTO judges.

According to Minister Luhut Binsar Pandajaitan, the EU has at least recognised that Indonesia has the right to limit or completely prohibit its exports of nickel ore.

“We are not prohibiting (precursor exports), but I say we also have the right to supply. ‘You (the European Union) can’t dictate to us,’ said Luhut.

Does the EU have its back to the wall when it comes to nickel?

The EU grandees now appear to be facing greater challenges, if not a back against the wall, in the procurement of nickel products. So far, the EU has not fully sanctioned Russian nickel exports to Europe.

Alternative sources urgently sought

With the possible loss of the mines and processing plants in New Caledonia and an increasingly aggressive market protection policy towards China, Brussels now seems to be desperately searching for alternative suppliers of the all-important battery and stainless steel raw material.

Are the EU negotiators in Brussels not taking a colonialist stance this time?

Whether the EU negotiators, who are only too happy to act like former colonial masters, will manage to leave their arrogance behind in Brussels remains questionable. Especially if the current Commission President von der Leyen is elected for a second term of office.

‘The European election has begun’

We should all make use of our right and cast our vote. Only if we do nothing and remain silent too often will it continue to be far too easy for dubious players such as the current EC boss and the lobbyists of the major EU corporations.

China’s stainless steel prices continue to rise due to nickel ore disruptions

The recent disruption in nickel ore supply has significantly increased ferronickel prices, driving up stainless steel prices in China.

Even though the supply of refined nickel products from Indonesia to China seems to be reasonably secure, producers in Indonesia are still dependent on imports of ore from the Philippines.

Chinese market greedy for ferronickel

And the Chinese market continues to be greedy for ferronickel, as can easily be seen from the huge import volumes of almost 3 million tonnes from January to April 2024, an increase of more than 32% compared to the previous year. For refined nickel products, the increase in the same period was around 12.8%.

This has an impact on ferronickel prices and therefore also on the prices of Chinese stainless steel, which are also sustainably influenced by this.

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