|Steelmakers have had to contend with drawn-out cross-border investigations, Photo: Le Toan |
Vietnamese steelmakers such as Vina One Steel, Tay Nam Steel Manufacturing and Trading Co., Ltd., Maruichi Sun Steel, and Wing Chung Co., Ltd. breathed a sigh of relief at the end of August when Australian authorities dropped their anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation of Vietnamese precision steel pipes.
According to the Trade Remedies Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), after an investigation request was handed over in January 2020, the MoIT studied the dossier and quickly went to work rebutting the allegation as well as providing relevant information so that the Australian agency could come to the most accurate conclusions on the case. The developments have demonstrated the efforts of Vietnamese exporters in providing complete and timely information at the request of the investigating agency and cooperation between organisers to protect the rights of the domestic manufacturing industries.
Le Trieu Dung, director of the Trade Remedies Agency said, “If in the past businesses were not fully aware of such cases, in the last five years, with the efforts of the government and the Vietnam Steel Association, such awareness has increased significantly.”
He added specifically that many steel enterprises have considered anti-dumping, anti-subsidy, and self-defence investigations as an indispensable activity in international trade, so some enterprises have built specialised departments for the handling of trade remedies.
In the context of complicated developments of the global steel market, as well as the impact of the pandemic, the case had caused several difficulties for domestic steel enterprises producing and exporting large quantities to Australia, including SeAH Vietnam and Vina One Steel.
“On the basis of the steel pipe manufacturing industry database provided by the Vietnam Steel Association, Vietnamese manufacturers and exporters have received support from relevant ministries and sectors in explaining allegations,” shared SeAH Steel Vina. “Exporters proved the selling price in the domestic market and the export price to Australia, and the decision has brought great encouragement to steel enterprises.”
Nghiem Xuan Da, chairman of the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA), explained that being able to go through dozens of administrative reviews and getting good results depends on many factors. “It is still important for businesses to ensure strict principles, transparency in books, and traceability of original records to be able to meet all information requirements,” Da said.
Last year, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) issued the final decision in the investigation of anti-tax evasion, anti-dumping, and anti-subsidy for cold-rolled steel and corrosion-resistant steels imported from Vietnam using South Korean and Taiwanese materials. With the final decision of the DOC, Hoa Phat Steel Sheet Co., Ltd. will export to the United States according to the process of origin, and are excluded from taxation.
Hoa Phat said it strictly complies with the rules of origin thanks to product coding throughout the production process, and current results are a good start to help the company gradually penetrate the US market.
Dinh Anh Tuyet, managing partner of IDVN Lawyers said, “It is difficult for one or two businesses that lack resources to cope with trade remedies. Enterprises need to go through the association to develop their own coping strategies. The sooner you prepare, the better your chances of success get.”
The workload of each activity can be very heavy due to the large amount of information and materials to be evaluated,” Tuyet added. “If your company decides to defend itself, resource estimates and well-planned strategies can avoid any unexpected financial and technical problems that may occur during the investigation.”
Over the years, businesses have improved knowledge and strategy about trade remedies to protect themselves over the years. However, Da of the VSA showed concern about a sharp rise in the number of anti-dumping investigations due to global oversupply and protectionism.
“The cause, first of all, is global overcapacity. In the past 10 years, steel capacity has always been higher than actual output, over 500 million tons per year. Secondly, because emerging market countries had a shortage of steel products before, now they have improved their production capacity and self-supply for domestic demand, and even surplus for export,” Da explained.
He gave an example that Vietnam 10 years ago was a steel importer, but in the last five years it became a major steel exporter in the region. “The increase in protectionism makes the global trade situation more difficult and creates a trend that forces us to face more and more trade remedies,” Da explained.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the structures of global trade witnessed significant changes as some governments imposed more restrictive measures due to trade tensions and slowing growth. For now, Da concluded, due to the global economic situation and unpredictable development of a health crisis that has not been controlled completely, trade protection might continue to increase.
Vietnam’s iron and steel export turnover has increased 3.8 times in volume, from 2.55 billion tonnes in 2015 to 9.87 billion tonnes in 2020 and 3.1 times in value, reaching $5.25 billion last year, according to the General Statistics Office.