Indonesia, China slap anti-dumping duties on each other's steel products

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia and China on Friday slapped anti-dumping import duties on each other’s steel products in an escalation of a global tariff row involving one of the world’s most widely used metals.

Indonesia extended anti-dumping import duties of up to 20 percent for a number of flat-rolled iron and steel products from seven countries, including China, Russia and India.

The duties, which have been in place since 2013, affect Chinese giants Angang Steel Co and Baoshan Iron and Steel Co, Russia’s Severstal and India’s Essar Steel. The extension will take effect 14 days from March 19, when the government signed the regulation.

Indonesia also imposed the tax on flat-rolled imports from Taiwan, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and separately set an 11.9 percent anti-dumping duty on a few other iron and steel products from China.

“But 20 percent ... it’s not that significant in terms of anti-dumping duties, compared to the high duties from Europe and the U.S.,” said Kevin Bai, an analyst at CRU in Beijing.

“It’s a protection measure because in recent days Southeast Asian countries are trying to be more independent. They are producing their own products instead of importing from China.”

With 1.79 million tonnes of imports from China in 2018, Indonesia is the fifth-largest destination for Chinese flat steel products, according to the IHS Markit Global Trade Atlas, behind Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand.

Earlier on Friday, China’s commerce ministry said it would impose temporary anti-dumping measures from March 23 on stainless steel billet and hot-rolled stainless steel plate from Indonesia, and other producers such as Japan, South Korea and the European Union. It has not yet determined the duty percentages.

The Chinese tariffs follow the launch of a probe by Beijing into imports of stainless steel last July and did not appear to be related to the Indonesia tariff action.

Almost two-thirds of China’s stainless steel imports in 2017 came from Indonesia, up from just 5 percent in 2016, according to the complaint that triggered the anti-dumping probe.

“It’s a way to protect domestic steel companies, but China imports very little from the rest of the world,” said Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

“It imports maybe some high-end steel products that could not be produced locally or is imported by end-users who need a certain type of specification.”

Pradnyawati, director of trade security at Indonesia’s Trade Ministry, said that Jakarta is offering to help the exporters who are allegedly dumping stainless steel on China, and is studying Beijing’s accusation to decide on its “next step”.

She did not respond to a question on the reasoning behind the extension of Indonesia’s anti-dumping tariff on iron products from China and the other countries.

Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy and Bernadette Christina Munthe; Additional reporting by Tom Daly and Muyu Xu in BEIJING, and Enrico dela Cruz in MANLA; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue