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BIR Convention: Obstacles Persist in Nonferrous Markets

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Political restrictions are among the challenges said to be hampering free trade.

Recycling Today Staff June 11, 2013

Government “meddling” in the form of bans and other restrictions on nonferrous scrap exports reflected the influence of consumers “who falsely believe that scrap processed within their borders by us is inherently theirs to consume, regardless of its origin,” BIR Nonferrous Metals Division President Robert Stein of U.S.-based Alter Trading told the divisional meeting in Shanghai on May 27.

Stein’s comments came at the end of a month in which the Indian government had raised the basic customs duty on aluminum scrap imports to 2.5 percent and had re-imposed the 4 percent special additional duty of customs on brass scrap imports—moves he described as “yet another obstacle to the natural flow of metals around the world.”

“The markets are the best at determining where our scrap is shipped; the more barriers to free trade, the higher the costs to the processing community who will seek alternative markets,” Stein said.  

In his summary of world markets based on reports submitted to the most recent BIR Nonferrous Metals World Mirror, Paul Coyte of Hayes Metals in New Zealand expressed his confusion as to why the Indian government had chosen to make such changes at a time of global uncertainty when, five years earlier, it had done “the polar opposite.”

Stein also cited a number of the other intractable problems currently confronting the nonferrous sector, including difficult margins, the high cost of scrap and thefts of metal from containers. He welcomed BIR’s decision to join forces with the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a crime-fighting unit of the International Chamber of Commerce, in order to help it to build a more comprehensive database that could better apprise BIR members of theft and fraud risks around the world.

The chairman of BIR’s International Trade Council, Robert Voss of UK-based Voss International, urged association members to contact the IMB with details of any theft or fraud. The more information contributed by members on a strictly confidential basis, “the more we are protected as an industry,” Voss insisted.

One of two guest speakers at the BIR Nonferrous Metals Division meeting in Shanghai, C. S. Huang, the chairman and CEO of Ye Chiu Taicang (Aluminum) in China, argued that huge demand from the automotive sector was likely to encourage further development of the aluminum alloy industry in China. He also suggested that the “Green Fence” policy implemented by China earlier this year had deprived many factories in Guangdong of sufficient secondary raw materials to meet their production requirements.

Fellow guest speaker Xun Min Guo, executive vice president of major China-based copper scrap importer Dongying Fangyuan, described scientific innovation as the “lifeblood” of his smelting operation. Award-winning oxygen bottom blowing technology had delivered better recovery rates as well as low operating costs and a one-third reduction in energy usage, he said.

Also in Shanghai, it was noted that the BIR Nonferrous Metals Division had established an Electronic Scrap Committee under the leadership of Phär Oscár of Stena Metall, based in Sweden.

The 2013 BIR World Recycling Convention & Exposition was at the Pudong Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai May 27-29.

 

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