Stainless steel pricing suspended in parts of Asia
Stainless steel pricing suspended in parts of Asia

9 December 2022 – Stainless steel pricing has been suspended in parts of Asia due to drastically increased nickel and molybdenum prices. The WTO considers Section 232 tariffs to be irregular – is the climate club coming? Jealousy and protectionism continue to drive up scrap prices.

Stainless steel pricing suspended in parts of Asia

Market sources report that stainless steel pricing has been suspended in China and parts of Asia due to soaring nickel and ferro-molybdenum prices.

Background to the price suspension

Asian nickel prices on the futures and spot markets are in part above $32,500 per tonne today. Asian buyers were described as bullish, pushing prices up by more than 3% again.

Dramatic rise in molybdenum prices

However, molybdenum prices in particular are being blamed for this. Molybdenum, which is needed e.g. for stainless steel grades 316/316L, but also for duplex, super duplex and tool steel grades, had risen dramatically in price in recent weeks.

Ferro-molybdenum rises to more than $50,000 per tonne

After hitting a low in August 2022, the price of the metal had risen dramatically not only in Asia but also on the LME in Europe. And had crossed the important $50,000 per tonne mark yesterday. A tonne of ferro-molybdenum cost about $52,500 in London on Thursday, 8 December 2022, up 11.9% from the previous day.

Section 232 will be replaced by the climate club?

According to a statement by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, the World Trade Organisation will find the so-called Section 232 Tariffs, i.e. the punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the United States, to be non-compliant with WTO rules.

The Section 232 Tariffs introduced in 2018 by the Trump administration had contributed to the introduction of the EU Safeguard measure in 2019.

Is the US-EU climate club coming now?

In recent days, it was revealed that the United States would be working on new climate tariffs on steel and presumably aluminium. This appears to be taking place in cooperation or close consultation with the European Union, suggesting the introduction of a joint climate club.

This provides further evidence that until there is a successor to the Section 232 Tariffs or the EU Safeguard measure, both market protection measures will remain in place.

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