EU anti-dumping probe expected to support TiO2 market

Brussels: “European clients are afraid of [a potential] anti-dumping tariff in March and create the inventory in advance; it gave Chinese TiO2 manufacturers the opportunity to increase the price,” a market source told Fastmarkets.

One Chinese TiO2 producer plans to increase offer prices by $100 per tonne starting January 1, 2024, this source and two other market participants have heard.

Despite the tension on the market, current prices remained rangebound.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for titanium dioxide pigment, sulfate grade, fob China was $2,200-2,300 per tonne on Thursday December 14, unchanged from a week before, with accumulated inventories enough to cater for supply.

Fastmarkets’ monthly assessment for titanium dioxide pigment, chloride grade, DDP Europe was unchanged at €2,850-3,350 ($3,133-3,683) per tonne on the same day.

According to the first source, Chinese suppliers received more orders than usual in the past week, mostly from Europe.

The potential price increase is likely to reflect additional demand amid the ongoing anti-dumping investigation of the China-origin TiO2 imported into the EU.

After complaints from the European Titanium Dioxide Ad Hoc Coalition, comprising European TiO2 producers, the European Commission announced a probe on November 13.

The Commission has not decided the timeline for potential measures yet, since the investigation is ongoing, Fastmarkets understands.

As the Coalition’s spokesperson told Fastmarkets, retroactive anti-dumping measures would be applied from the date of registration of imports, but not from the date when the investigation began.

Market participants, when speaking to Fastmarkets, have been wondering what happens to China-origin material currently in transit.

“Duties are imposed on import and customs clearance: if registration occurs prior to goods being cleared through customs, for example at a bonded warehouse, such goods would be impacted by the interim measures,” the Coalition spokesperson said.

“The determination of the date of registration will depend on the decision of the European Commission,” the spokesperson said. “Based on past practice and the regulatory framework, registration could occur as early as February or March 2024.”

The earliest that provisional duties could be imposed is in May, after completion of the Commission’s investigation, the Coalition’s spokesperson said.

Similar measures were implemented in the anti-dumping case against Chinese and Russian steel, initiated on May 14, 2015, according to the spokesperson.

Back then, the European steel association Eurofer had filed a complaint against China- and Russia-origin cold-rolled coil (CRC), requesting imports to be registered and measures applied from the date of registration, the spokesperson said.

As a result, the Commission increased anti-dumping duties on CRC from China and Russia to 19.80-36.10%, Fastmarkets reported.