ISTANBUL, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Turkey’s $1.1 billion of steel exports to the United States could be at risk if President Donald Trump further tightens import restrictions, the head of Turkey’s steel exporter association told Reuters.
U.S. steel executives have appealed directly to Trump for immediate import restrictions to protect their businesses.
Such restrictions would be a big knock to Turkey’s steel exports to the United States, which totalled 2.3 million tonnes and were worth $1.1 billion last year, Namik Ekinci, chairman of the Turkish Steel Exporters Association, said in an interview.
“If the restrictions being mentioned are imposed, our entire steel exports to the United States may be at risk,” he said.
The United States last year accounted for around 14 percent of Turkey’s total steel exports of 16.5 million tonnes. Turkey, is the world’s ninth-largest steel exporter and the eighth-largest producer.
Trump said in July a final decision on steel trade would be made after other issues were resolved. But concerns the United States could take a more protectionist stance have already weighed on steel exports in recent months, Ekinci said.
According to industry data, steel exports to the United States fell to 114,000 in July, down 56 percent from April, when Trump launched a probe to determine whether steel imports compromise national security.
The U.S. Commerce Department had previously imposed taxes on some Turkish companies, after anti-dumping and compensatory investigations into rebar steel from Turkey.
In May, the final decision on Turkish rebar steel investigations concluded the goods had been dumped and were state-promoted. Turkish steel exporters have since appealed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the decision.
Turkey is also appealing to the WTO over Morocco’s anti-dumping duties on Turkish hot-rolled steel.
Despite the headwinds, Turkey’s steel exports showed a 15 percent increase in the first seven months of 2017, to 10.9 million tonnes, Ekinci said. (Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan and Mark Potter)