【英语中国】中国计划严管铁矿石进口融资 China plans crackdown on iron ore import loans

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2014-4-29 06:46

小艾摘要: China plans to get tougher on loans for iron ore imports as concerns grow that steel mills are using import loans to stay afloat, in defiance of policies to reduce overcapacity in heavily polluting an ...
China plans crackdown on iron ore import loans
China plans to get tougher on loans for iron ore imports as concerns grow that steel mills are using import loans to stay afloat, in defiance of policies to reduce overcapacity in heavily polluting and lossmaking industries.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission warned banks to tighten controls over letters of credit for iron ore imports in a document that caused iron ore futures in China to drop 5 per cent yesterday.

Rumours of the stricter measures, expected after the May 1 holiday, have been circulating in China for at least two months, after a hasty stock sale caused ore prices to tumble in late February.

Steel mills and traders have used iron ore imports to raise money as other sources of credit dry up, in yet another channel for off-book or “shadow” financing. Part of the attraction of the practice is that mills benefit from lower international interest rates compared with those in China.

Chinese companies have developed a number of creative channels for raising money thanks to years of capital controls meant to starve the real estate sector of speculative funds. But the bulk and difficulty of transporting iron ore makes it a cumbersome material for raising money, limiting its flexibility as a financing tool compared with copper or gold.

Regulators are worried that the collapse of a heavily indebted mill could endanger a chain of local bank branches and even local governments, since steel mills are often the largest employers, taxpayers and debtors in their area. A case in point is Haixin Steel, also known as Highsee, which the local government in Shanxi province is trying to save.

“Because of the difficulty getting funding, steel mills need to think of all types of methods including letters of credit. We do not think this is against any regulations, they need to do what they need to do,” Qu Xiuli, vice-secretary general of the China Iron and Steel Association, told reporters yesterday.

Iron ore stocks at Chinese ports are at 109.55m tonnes, data from Steelhome showed on Friday, historically high in absolute terms but still relatively low in terms of the size of the industry’s import demand.

Data from the first quarter of the year show China is on track to produce 822m tonnes of steel this year, a rise of 5.5 per cent on last year despite the rising debt levels, increased financing costs and prospect of more environmental regulation.

More capacity is still being built, lamented CISA vice-chairman Zhang Changfu, further squeezing margins in the industry.

“With the industry in such a state, how can new capacity still be built?” Mr Zhang mused at CISA’s quarterly press conference.

The extra capacity flies in the face of a political campaign to close some polluting plants in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, to meet targets meant to reduce pollution around the capital. The trade-off for Hebei, which fears the loss of jobs and local tax income, is greater regional integration with Beijing and Tianjin, a large northern port city.

Hebei has trumpeted the destruction of steel mills to show its willing co-operation with the targets. First-quarter data from Hebei show some drop-off in steel output having a negative impact on provincial GDP growth.

中国打算收紧对铁矿石进口贷款的管理,因为一些钢铁企业罔顾缩减污染和亏损严重行业产能的国家政策,利用进口贷款维持经营,这种做法引起的担忧正日益加深。

中国银监会(CBRC)发文警告各银行收紧对铁矿石进口信用证的控制,导致昨日中国市场铁矿石期价下挫5%。

今年2月末,行业匆忙去库存活动导致铁矿石价格大跌。随后的至少两个月里,中国一直流传着“五一劳动节”后将出台更严格措施的说法。

由于其他信贷渠道日益枯竭,钢铁企业和交易商已开始利用铁矿石进口融入资金,这也成为另一种表外或“影子”融资渠道。这一做法的部分吸引力在于,与国内利率相比,钢铁企业可以从更低的国际利率中受益。

在多年旨在阻止房地产行业获取投机性资金的资本管控之下,中国企业已发展出许多创造性的融资渠道。但是,铁矿石的运输量大、难度高,不是一种便利的融资货物,在充当融资工具方面的灵活性不如铜或黄金。

监管机构担心,一家负债严重的钢铁企业的倒闭可能危及大量的当地银行分支机构、甚至地方政府,因为钢铁企业通常是所在地区最大的用工单位、纳税人和债务人。山西省一家地方政府正在努力救助的海鑫钢铁集团(Haixin Steel),便是一个颇有说服力的例子。

“由于很难获得资金,钢铁企业需要思考各种融资方法,包括信用证。我们认为,这不违反任何规定,他们需要用什么方法,就得用什么方法。”中国钢铁工业协会(CISA,简称中钢协)副秘书长屈秀丽昨天对记者表示。

钢之家(Steelhome)上周五的数据显示,中国各港口的铁矿石总存量目前为1.0955亿吨,绝对量创下了历史新高,但与钢铁行业的进口需求相比仍处于较低水平。

今年一季度数据显示,中国今年钢产量将达到8.22亿吨,同比增长5.5%,尽管负债水平升高、融资成本加重以及环境法规可能更趋严格。

中钢协副会长张长富痛惜地表示,产能仍在继续扩张,将进一步挤压行业利润。

张长富在中钢协的季度新闻发布会上发问:行业处于如今这种状态,怎么能继续扩大产能?

目前,中国正进行一场政治运动,旨在关停环绕北京的河北省的部分污染工厂,从而减轻首都周边污染状况,而钢铁产能扩大与这一运动相抵触。河北省害怕工人失业和当地税收减少,作为对其减污行动的交换,其与北京和北方港口城市天津的地区一体化将得到加强。

河北省已开始高调宣传关停一些钢铁企业,以表明其乐于配合达成减轻污染的目标。河北省一季度数据显示,钢铁产量急剧下降已对该省GDP增长产生负面影响。

译者/邢嵬

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