China, major producers fail to reach deal over steel
By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, April 18 (Reuters) - China and other major steel-producing countries failed on Monday to agree measures to tackle a global steel crisis as the sides argued over the causes of overcapacity and whether Beijing is keeping loss-making producers afloat.
A meeting of ministers and trade officials from over 30 countries, hosted by Belgium and the OECD, sought to tackle excess capacity, but concluded only that it had to be dealt with in a swift and structural way.
The OECD said global steelmaking capacity was 2.37 billion tonnes in 2015, but declining production meant that only 67.5 percent of that was being used, down from 70.9 percent in 2014.
Britain in particular has felt the squeeze as its largest producer Tata Steel has announced plans to pull out of the country, threatening 15,000 jobs.
At a news conference following Monday's meeting, deep divisions were clear.
China's assistant commerce minister, Zhang Ji, countered accusations that Beijing subsidises steel exporters, saying that China had cut 90 million tonnes of capacity and had plans to reduce it by a further 100-150 million tonnes.
"That is only 10 million tonnes less than the capacity in Europe," he said, although critics say it would still have a capacity of around 1 billion tonnes, far in excess of its needs.
China says the fundamental cause of steel overcapacity was the collapse of demand due to the 2008-2009 financial crisis and that the issue of excess capacity is a global one for all countries. International trade, it says, is not to blame. Continuación...