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Vietnam’s massive steel imports hurt local manufacturers

Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 14:04 GMT+7

Vietnam has spent more than US$7.6 billion on steel imports in 2016, even though local manufacturers are capable of producing most steel products to meet domestic demand.

As of December 15, Vietnam’s steel imports topped 17.65 million metric tons, mostly from China, according to statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

If imports of steel products, worth $2.8 billion in the same period, are counted, the total money Vietnam spent on bringing steel to the country in 2016 would be as much as $10.44 billion.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s steel exports in the Jan-Nov period reached only $2 billion, according to customs data.

Eighteen local steelmakers have recently voiced formal concern on the rising steel imports, particularly the influx of steel cable rolls, which they say bypassed the country’s safeguard duties.

Since Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade imposed a 15.4 percent safeguard duty on steel cables in July, there has been a dramatic drop in imports of the products, with import values in the first ten months of 2016 equaling only 58 percent of 2015 numbers.

However, the steel cables have been imported under a different product code to enjoy a zero tax, causing an influx in imports. The number of steel cables imported to Vietnam in the Jan-Oct period of this year was four times the amount in 2015.

In October alone, Vietnam imported a record 144,000 metric tons of steel cables, over 1.5 times more than local productions.  

Experts have complained that the large steel imports worsened Vietnam’s trade deficit this year, as well as putting more pressure on the foreign exchange rates management, as a large amount of the US dollars was spent on importing steel products.

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