Taiwanese stainless steel producers raise prices
Taiwanese stainless steel producers raise prices

31 January 2023 – Taiwanese stainless steel producers are raising prices across the board. Raw materials lobbying becomes a top priority in Germany. Philippines considers introducing nickel export tax. And WTO panel makes no headway in steel dispute between India and United States.

Taiwanese stainless steel producers raise prices

As had been expected before the start of the Lunar New Year celebrations, stainless steel producers in Taiwan have raised prices for the 300 and 400 series, in some cases by up to 4%.

In particular, prices are rising due to stronger demand, tighter availability and higher raw material costs. Especially for 316/316L due to the drastic increase in molybdenum prices. These had risen again by about 14% in the Chinese spot market today and are trading at more than $71,000 per tonne.

Commodity lobbying becomes a top priority in Germany

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, SPD, after his Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had already vigorously beaten the commodity drum in the Middle East, has now set out to continue this in South America.

Hydrogen yes, but not at home

Among other things, this is ostensibly about investments in the production of green hydrogen, which Germany in particular is trying to relocate abroad instead of promoting the production of green H2 in its own country.

Germany urgently seeks raw materials

At the same time, Germany is also burning for partnerships in raw materials such as iron ore, copper zinc and lithium. After the war against Ukraine and extensive sanctions, Russia, which had been the preferred supplier of raw materials for many years, has largely ceased to be a supplier.

Medium-sized companies sufficiently represented?

Olaf Scholz is accompanied on this trip by German business and association representatives. The list of participants usually remains a well-kept secret of the German government and is only released hesitantly and with restrictions. However, the participation of the German raw materials giant Aurubis, which seems to be exploring a stake in Chilean copper mines and is also active in the field of lithium extraction, is striking.

“One can only hope that the German Chancellor will not only engage in corporate lobbying again, but will not forget about the SME sector,” said Thorsten Gerber, CEO Gerber Group today.

SMEs often underrepresented

This is a well-founded concern, because according to a small question posed to the German Federal Government in 2020 for the period 2017 to 2020, it is evident that just 25% of the delegation participants come from the environment of small and medium-sized enterprises. At the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the figure is hardly better at 27%.

However, whether the German Federal Government or the Chancellor or his Minister of Economics will be able to reach economically attractive agreements with South America, especially on raw materials, is questionable after last year’s hasty and far too expensive gas purchases.

Spontaneous comment by Thorsten Gerber on this this morning: “Perhaps Mr. Scholz can use his experience from the CumEx deals here. Only hopefully he won’t forget them again…”

Nickel: Philippines thinking loudly about export tax

The Philippines has rich nickel deposits which, according to government officials, could now be protected by an export tax modelled on Indonesia. The government there has not failed to notice the economic growth of its Asian neighbour and wants to develop from a pure nickel supplier, primarily to China, to a processor in the value chain.

Philippine nickel deposits exhausted in 2030?

Even though the Philippine nickel deposits are large, they are finite. According to a calculation made in 2022, with current production volumes and necessary increases, Philippine nickel deposits could be exhausted by 2030.

WTO takes longer in steel tariff dispute between India and US

The WTO panel that was supposed to work on the tariff dispute between India and the United States over steel and aluminium has asked for a three-quarter extension of the deadlines.

“The panel is in ongoing consultations with the parties regarding this dispute and does not expect to issue its final report to the parties before the third quarter of 2023,” the panel reported to the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO recently. The panel was scheduled to give its report by 2022-end.


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