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Japan plans to hold bilateral talks with China over excess steel capacity

Tokyo — Japan will push for high level talks with China about excess steel capacity after a meeting of G20-led Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, or GFSEC, in Tokyo closed over the weekend with China deciding to withdraw from the forum.

Chinese representatives said the country had significantly reduced steelmaking capacity in recent years. Therefore, China believed GFSEC had achieved its purpose after the meeting and the country effectively withdrew its willingness to participate in future events.

As a result, China's membership of GFSEC will expire in December but majority of the members are willing to join the consensus around the draft ministerial report. The report lists GFSEC's next steps, including taking measures such as exchanging detailed information about capacity, actual demand and economic trends.

"GFSEC without China, or the forum with different name, will be set after December, to continue keeping eyes on excess steel capacity, but we as Japan believe China is still important on this issue. We offered China to have high-level bilateral talks to continue talking about excess steel capacity," an official from the Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

He said details of bilateral talks haven't been decided but they will be mainly to share information of actual steel capacity, demand level, economic trends and discuss possibilities to eliminate the gap between the capacity and demand.

The GFSEC -- established in September 2016 -- currently has 32 member countries with EU joining the forum over the weekend to help tackle steel excess capacity.

The gap between global steelmaking capacity and demand in 2018 declined to 400 million mt from around 700 million mt in 2015, mainly due to the elimination of around 155 million mt of steelmaking capacity in China and rising demand, notably in China, India and Southeast Asia, the ministry official said.

--Yoko Manabe, yoko.manabe@spglobal.com

--Edited by Kshitiz Goliya, kshitizgoliya@spglobal.com