Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s potential entry to the World Trade Organization next month won’t produce the boom in steel exports to Europe predicted by Metal Bulletin as producers are focusing on higher-growth markets, an industry group said.
“We don’t see the economic conditions for Russian exports to the European Union changing as that market is weak,” Anton Bazulev, a steering-committee member of Russian Steel, said today by phone from Moscow. Russian producers enjoy “double- digit growth” at home and have a “strong” presence in markets where expansion outstrips that in Europe, he said.
Russia expects to join the WTO in December after an 18-year wait, removing export barriers that include quotas on rolled- steel shipments to Europe. Trade publication Metal Bulletin said this month that Russia’s membership would lead to a “surge” in steel exports to the EU as producers benefit from output costs that are lower than in Europe and China.
Russia hasn’t shipped its full quota to Europe since 2006, according to data from Russian Steel, whose members include the country’s nine largest steelmakers. “For 2011, the quota is 3.3 million tons and we used only 60 percent of that in 10 months,” Bazulev said. Europe buys mainly “more-sophisticated steel products, which Russia doesn’t export.”
Europe has accounted for 25 percent to 29 percent of Russian steel exports since 2007. “That number includes rolled and semi-finished products which are not subject to quotas,” Bazulev said.
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