The United States' plan to impose tariffs on steel imports is credit negative for Moody's-rated Asian steel producers, but the impact will not materialize, said Moody's Investors Service Friday.
"The impact of the tariff would be manageable for the Asian steel sector and Moody's-rated steelmakers in the region, because exports to the U.S. account for relatively small portions of their total steel production," the rating agency's analyst Sean Hwang said in a statement.
Moody's also pointed out that China's direct steel exports to the U.S. represented only 1 percent of total exports or 0.1 percent of total steel production during the first nine months of 2017.
Besides, the reliance by Chinese steel companies on exports decreased substantially in 2017, according to Moody's.
In contrast, the South Korean steel sector demonstrates a relatively high exposure to U.S. exports, given its position as the third largest steel exporting country to the U.S. during the first nine months of 2017.
However, even in the case of South Korea, Moody's said, steel exports to the U.S. are mostly focused on pipes and tubes, in which the Moody's-rated South Korean steelmakers show little exposure to.
In a separate statement, Moody's managing director Marie Diron said that Canada and Bahrain would be most affected based on their size of aluminum and steel exports to the U.S., if the tariffs also apply to them.
U.S. president Donald Trump had on Thursday indicated that he would approve a 25-percent tariff on steel imports starting the following week. His decision was based on the U.S. Commerce Department's Section 232 investigation of the ramifications of metal imports on national security.