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Official: China should have more say in global iron ore trade(08/13/09)

BEIJING, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- As the world's largest iron ore buyer, China should have more say in the global iron ore trade, Industry and Information Technology Minister Li Yizhong said Thursday.

"Spot prices of iron ore are increasing sharply on the global market and we hope to see an appropriate relationship between spotprices and long-term contract prices," Li said at a press conference.

He hoped the world's major iron ore suppliers would consider both their own long-term interests and their long-term cooperationwith China's steel industry.

According to customs statistics, China imported 355.3 million tonnes of iron ore in the first seven months this year, an increase of 31.8 percent from a year earlier.

China's iron ore demand would not continue its rising trend as the government restructured the steel industry in an effort to solve the excess capacity problem, Li said.

China had stockpiled more than 200 million tonnes of iron ore bought at record high prices of 140 to 160 U.S. dollars per tonne last year because of "disorderly" imports. Domestic steel makers suffered tremendous losses when prices plunged to 30 U.S. dollars per tonne as the global economic downturn sapped demand, he said.

He said the government would support the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), which heads the 2009 iron ore price negotiations with major iron ore suppliers on behalf of domestic steel makers, and urged an end to in-fighting, which pushed up prices.

Iron ore price negotiations with Rio Tinto, the world's second largest iron ore supplier, have hit a stalemat with Rio Tinto sticking to its offer of a 33-percent price cut for 2009-2010 contracts, while the CISA insists on a deeper cut.

There are more than 700 steel makers and 112 iron ore importersin China. In 2008, the country imported 443 million tonnes of ironore, more than half of the world's total shipments.



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