Steel association wants protection against imports

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The Vietnam Steel Association has requested authorities to tighten control over imports from China and Southeast Asian countries as the market share of local products has dropped sharply.

News website VnExpress on Sunday cited Nguyen Tien Nghi, vice chairman of the association, as saying that steel imports amounted to around 350,000 tons per month in January and February, hurting local producers.

He noted that Vietnamese steel products now only account for 14 percent of the market, compared to an average 30 percent in previous months.

As a result, the association said customs, tax and trade officials should take immediate measures to control imports. It said the right import tax rates must be applied for particular imported products.

For instance, steel products of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which are eligible for a zero tax rate, must actually be produced by, instead of just coming from an ASEAN country.

The association also said steel imports from China, even with boron, must carry a 10 percent tax if they are used for construction projects.

Local producers in 2009 discovered a case in which an importer claimed 29,000 tons of steel imported from China to be alloy steel to benefit from lower tax rates, even though the products were simply carbon steel with a small quantity of boron added. Generally, boron is added to steel products to increase strength.

According to the Vietnam Steel Association, local steel output has reached double the local demand. It expects total production to reach 8.8 million tons this year, up from 7.8 million tons in 2010.

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