June 19, 2008

Commerce Ministry Rejects Tinplate Price Hike Request

By Phusadee Arunmas, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Jun. 18--The Commerce Ministry yesterday turned down a request by tinplate producers to raise their prices in line with rising raw material costs. Officials asked producers and importers to hold prices steady for another two months.

The ministry wants the tinplate businesses to hold talks with upstream steel producers, steel importers and end users, particularly canned food producers, to estimate real production costs, said Yanyong Phuangrach, the director-general of the Internal Trade Department.

The producers had sought Internal Trade Department permission to raise their prices by 13 percent or about 3,000 baht per tonne.

As of March, the world price of tinplate was 59,000 baht per tonne, compared with 52,000 baht at the start of the year. Hot-rolled steel, the key raw materials, increased to 40,000 baht per tonne from 36,000 baht.

Tinplate is used for canned fruit and fruit juice, while chromium-coated plate is widely used in the canned fish and seafood industry.

According to an industry executive, higher tinplate and chromium-coated steel prices would affect the competitiveness of Thai food exports by rising costs of finished packaged-food products.

Siam United Steel Co is the only local tinplate producer, with the remaining 29 operators mostly importers.

Last year, production capacity of tinplate in Thailand was estimated at 390,000 tonnes and imports totalled 179,000 tonnes. Demand this year is forecast at 550,000 to 600,000 tonnes.


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