10 Maret 2008
S. Korea warns against cornering of steel bars

Kim Yeonhee Reuters/Seoul South Korea will crack down on people attempting to accumulate stocks of steel scraps and bars to prevent speculative demand and stabilize prices of those products, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday.

The move applies to producers and retailers of steel products, including electric furnace operators, as well as builders, as the construction industry is suffering from a shortage of reinforcing steel bars.

"The soaring prices and unstable supply and demand of steel bars seem to be related to unfair trade activity such as cornering and hoarding practices by retailers and builders, along with higher raw material prices," the ministry said in a statement.
"We will sternly deal with profiteering ... in cooperation with relevant ministries."
If found to have bigger inventories of steel products than normal, officials of the firms involved could be reported to prosecutors and face up to two years in jail or a fine of up to 50 million won (US$52,200).

Steel bar prices had risen 28.2 percent by February from the end of last year, more than the increase in wholesale prices and import prices of steel scraps, according to the ministry.

Hyundai Steel Co, South Korea's secondbiggest steel maker, has 40 percent of the local steel bar market, with output of 3.7 million tons.

The company said in December it would increase the price of steel bars by 6.8 percent from Jan. 2, 2008, reflecting soaring raw material prices.
Steel bar mills gather steel scraps from building companies to melt down in electric furnaces.

The Finance Ministry will also monitor the distribution of foodstuffs such as flour and crack down on people hoarding such daily necessities, it added.

Source :  Investor Daily Indonesia, Page : P4 

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