Focus story by Bill Bowen
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US producers of natural soda ash were assessing on Wednesday the possible ramifications of anti-dumping duties (ADDs) imposed by the South Africa Customs Union (SACU) after determining that the low prices offered by US exporters were harming a local soda ash producer.
Most US producers were assessed ADDs of 40%, but OCI Chemical and Tata (Soda Ash) North America received less severe penalties, at 21% and 8%, respectively. OCI and Tata were responsible for about 30% of US soda ash exports to the region during the period studied, the regulators said.
The ruling will likely have some effect on US producers, who shipped 134,000 tonnes to South Africa in 2013, according to data collected by the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The SACU, which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, issued the ruling after reviewing a complaint from Botswana Ash, the only natural soda ash producer among the member countries.
The alleged dumping occurred between 2009 and 2012, according to SACU documents supporting the decision.
One US producer source on Wednesday was researching whether it had shipped product to South Africa during the period in question to determine whether it would be affected.
“There are a lot of questions on the table at this time,” the source said of the decision.
Another producer source said that European producers may reap some gain from the decision if any US suppliers of significant volumes are blocked out of SACU countries by the new duties.
US producers OCI, Tata and FMC Wyoming market soda ash internationally through the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation (ANSAC), an export consortium. But ANSAC was fined $1m for alleged price-fixing in South Africa several years ago and no longer exports to that market. That trade case was also brought by Botswana Ash. The individual companies are now each responsible for exports to the SACU countries.
US soda ash makers produced 11.5m tonnes in 2013 and sold more than half -- 6.47m tonnes -- in export markets.
Major US soda ash producers include Solvay, OCI, FMC, Tata and Searles Valley Minerals, a division of the Indian corporation Nirma.