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Indonesia's new scrap import regulations prompt confusion in market

Singapore — Indonesia's new waste import regulation on ferrous scrap has prompted confusion in the regional market, potentially leading to future changes to scrap flows, market sources said.

The latest regulations in the country's fight against waste import will take effect November 23 and were released to the domestic market by the Ministry of Trade earlier this week, market sources said.

The regulations will primarily require importers to apply and be subjected to heightened import clearance and criteria for scrap. Furthermore, imported cargoes must originate from exporters that are registered in their home countries, with cargoes to be shipped directly from origin to destination ports (no transshipments allowed). If any of this cannot be shown, the cargo may be required to be re-exported, according to a Ministry of Trade document, obtained by S&P Global Platts from various Indonesian market sources.

"There are many containers that come from the Americas and Europe," a prominent regional trader said. "And these may have to transship via Singapore or Malaysia into feeder vessels which will then come to Indonesia."

Traders have speculated that deepsea containerized shipments may fall out of favor from buyers if the regulation is enforced, leading to buyers turning towards more shortsea direct shipments from origins like Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

"Scrap prices will blow up from regional origins, and even domestic scrap prices too," the trader said. "Mills in Indonesia will then have to push up product prices."

Mill sources in Jakarta have said that they remain confused by the lack of detail in the regulation, with one mill source saying they would be planning to shift to more billet purchases in lieu of tougher scrap import requirements.

"We are not taking the risk to wait and see if this regulation is enforced," another EAF mill source in Jakarta said. "We have already notified all our scrap suppliers to hurry on the shipments to reach us by November 23. Not very much time left is there."

"It is chaos, we are getting so many calls these few days from both buyers and suppliers," another trader said. "Some mills however seem quite calm as they felt that it was unreasonable, but some have started reacting."

The Ministry of Trade wasn't available to comment on the matter throughout the week.

The latest import figures show that Indonesia reached a total of 1.85 million mt of scrap for the first nine months of the year, up by 14% from the same period of 2018, figures from BPS-Statistics Indonesia showed.

-- Samuel Chin, samuel.chin@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com