SURGING imports pose a threat to European steelmaking, according to the chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations.
Karl Koehler also revealed that market conditions had worsened this year, as he provided a commentary in connection with the first quarter financial results.
Mr Koehler added: “We have made good progress in building a comprehensive portfolio of advanced steel products. We are now shifting focus towards optimising sales of these products and towards the development of next-generation steels.
“European steel demand is increasing modestly. But imports have grown much faster in recent years and risk undermining Europe’s steel industry. Imports from China, in particular, have grown at an alarming rate – hot rolled coil shipments from China have been arriving at more than three times the volumes of 2013 – adversely affecting international steel prices.”
Mr Koehler also warned that surging imports, uncompetitive energy costs and the strength of sterling are hurting the firm’s UK operations. He added: “These three factors caused our first quarter financial performance to deteriorate, despite our more stable production platform as seen in our improved operating performance.” Earlier this month, the Scunthorpe-based long products business of Tata Steel Europe was hived off into a separate wholly owned subsidiary. Tata said: “While the long product business faces severe challenges due to poor market conditions and adverse currency movements, the separation of the long products divisiong into a separate legal entity provides the company the flexibility to evaluate alternative strategic options.”