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BIR Shanghai: International Trade Council session

Since BIR’s 2012 Spring Convention in Rome, metals theft and fraud had been “growing at a dramatic pace”, lamented International Trade Council (ITC) Chairman Robert Voss of UK-based Voss International at the outset of the meeting in Shanghai.

Twelve months earlier, the ITC had devoted a special workshop to the study of the extent to which theft and fraud were impacting the metals recycling sector. Since then, the decision of the BIR to join the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) - a crime-fighting unit of the International Chamber of Commerce - had already prevented headaches for “a good number of members” through providing access to IMB’s “huge” database.

Furthermore, said Voss, an increasing number of exporters were taking steps to protect themselves against theft - for example, by improving the quality of seals on containers or by introducing tracking devices on seals, containers or the goods contained within.

Another of the ITC’s key missions is to defend the free movement of the recycling industry’s materials around the world. In this context, Voss named around a dozen countries - including South Africa and India - whose governments had been contacted by the Council over measures or proposals for some form of trade barrier affecting secondary raw materials.

Voss underlined the need for input from BIR members to maximise the ITC’s effectiveness in its fight against protectionism, theft and fraud.

In one of three guest presentations at the ITC meeting, Cui Lei of the China Certification & Inspection Group (CCIC) presented statistics which, he said, underlined the country’s massive demand for secondary raw materials and the effectiveness of its pre-shipment inspection procedures. Of the “unqualified” waste raw materials exported to China, plastics accounted for 56%, non-ferrous for 17% and paper for 9%, he pointed out. CCIC inspectors undertook continuous training, he added, to minimise inconsistency in their interpretation and application of the rules.

He told delegates: “Only a small percentage of your exports are of poor quality but you need to give this small percentage your attention or your export efforts will fail.” He also opened up the possibility of a co-operation agreement between CCIC and BIR with the goal of jointly overcoming “any difficulties” relating to China’s import regime.

Fellow guest speaker See-Toh Khan Horng, Director of Corporate Sales at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Singapore, explored foreign exchange from the perspective of hedging costs, arbitrage and local currency invoicing. Concerning the third of these, he observed: “Today, Asian countries are encouraging exporters to invoice in their domestic currencies, especially China and India. This is to raise the international profile of their currencies and to reduce the impact of currency rate fluctuations. Exporters benefit in a variety of ways from domestic currency invoicing, which enables them to reduce their prices, perhaps by as much as 5%.”

And Paul Lam, Deputy General Manager at Jiang Tai Insurance Brokers Co Ltd, outlined recent developments in China regarding risk and insurance management, before urging foreign companies operating in the country to carry sufficient insurance protection.

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