- Iran has raised duties on certain steel imports to between 10 and 20 percent as protectionism in the global steel sector gathers pace amid a flood of sales from top producer China.
China's steel exports rose 50.5 percent last year to a record 94 million tonnes, or about a quarter of world exports. The increase has sparked a chorus of calls around the globe for action to protect local steel industries.
This year alone, measures taken to protect steelmakers have been taken in the European Union, Indonesia, India, Turkey, and now Iran.
"A steel import tax has been imposed ... to protect local steel mills against dumping of China, Russia and Turkey," said Keyvan Ja'fari Tehrani, head of international affairs at the Iranian Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Association (IRIOPEX).
There was no reply from Iran's Ministry of Mine, Trade and Industry to Reuters emails. Metal Expert, an information agency, showed Reuters a copy of the Iranian customs decree.
The duties, which will apply to products such as billet, hot rolled coil, wire rod and rebar, are in line with Iran's ambitious 2025 vision plan to quadruple its steel output.
They are also in line with a bid to diversify the country's economy away from oil, make it more self-sufficient, and shield it better from Western sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.
"Some believe that duties of 20 percent on rebar and 10 percent on billets cannot stop the tide of subsidized Chinese steel exports, and higher tariffs are required," said Bahador Ahramian, a board member of IRIOPEX and the Iran Steel Producers Association.
Tehran is anxious to protect its steel and iron ore sector. It is seen as strategic in that it supplies dozens of related industries, including construction and oil.
In addition to raising steel import duties, Iran has banned importers from buying foreign currency at the official exchange rate, usually about 20 percent below the market rate.