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India abandons proposed plan to register overseas suppliers

For UK scrap metal exporters, the latest BIR Autumn Convention in Warsaw brought welcome confirmation of the Indian governments decision to ditch a proposed registration scheme for overseas suppliers. The countrys Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had announced a plan in March last year to introduce a registration system covering imports of unshredded ferrous and non-ferrous scrap in response to explosions and loss of life linked to the presence of munitions in consignments arriving at Indian ports. The proposed regime, similar to that implemented in China under AQSIQ, would have required applicants to demonstrate their financial and business standing. Speaking at the BIR Ferrous Division meeting in Warsaw, Ikbal Nathani of the Nathani Group of Companies in India confirmed that some 1,400 applications had been received ahead of DGFTs initial deadline and a further 600-700 after that date. However, the authorities had struggled to cope with the influx of paperwork and only around 250 submissions from the initial batch of applications had been vetted, he said. At the same time, representatives from BIR, the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and Indias own steel industry had been calling for the registration proposal to be scrapped or diluted since they considered the cure was worse than the disease. Ultimately, DGFT recognised the true importance of scrap imports and took the bold and courageous decision to abandon its plans, explained Nathani. However, he went on to warn: Exporters should make sure we dont repeat the mistakes of the past. We should self-regulate to ensure no explosive materials are shipped. While the DGFT decision represents good news for UK exporters of both ferrous and non-ferrous scrap, the focus of concern has already shifted to the revised EU Waste Shipment Regulations introduced in July. A panel discussion during the latest BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division meeting concentrated on the requirement for an Annex VII tracking document to accompany shipments of non-hazardous materials designated as waste, including recyclables. According to the discussions moderator Robert Voss of UK-based Voss International, enforcement of Annex VII requirements was still very much in its infancy but the impact was likely to be felt very shortly in EU and also non-EU countries. Different countries were implementing the requirements in different ways, while the complexity of information demanded on the Annex VII form was totally illogical and offered no clear environment benefit, he added. Dr Joachim Wuttke from Germanys Federal Environment Agency highlighted the fact that the regulations call for a person under the jurisdiction of the country of dispatch to ensure waste is accompanied by tracking documentation, thereby suggesting that a traders seat of operation must be in the country from which the material is dispatched. ISRI president Robin Wiener also expressed concern at the requirement for brokers/traders to be under the jurisdiction of an EU member nation in order to buy material from that country and ship it to another. Interpretations of this jurisdiction requirement ranged from registration to a physical presence in the country of dispatch, she noted. Along with many other recycling industry experts, Wiener also voiced fears that commercial confidentiality would be seriously compromised if the demand for disclosure of downstream scrap suppliers were to stand. In other market news from the Convention, BIR Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee Chairman Michael Wright of Sheffield-based ELG Haniel Metals predicted that, following a period of muted order activity, demand for stainless steel scrap will quickly recover in first quarter 2008. However, he believed nickel prices would probably fluctuate between US$ 25,000 and US$ 35,000 per tonne rather than return to the US$ 50,000-plus levels witnessed prior to the changes implemented in June to the LMEs lending guidance. The BIR Textiles Division meeting in Warsaw brought news that Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) officials are keen to learn more about Frances proposed eco-levy on producers and distributors of new clothes and shoes. Designed to support sorting and recycling operations, the levy is on course for implementation in the second half of next year. Terry Ralph of Northamptonshire-based Terimpex said Dorothy Maxwell of Defra had expressed an interest in inviting an export on the eco-levy proposal to address the next meeting of the UKs sustainable clothing road-map.

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