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MYSTEEL: China’s 2020 steel exports seen plunging 15%

China’s steel exports could fall to 55 million tonnes this year, down 14.5% on year, as Chinese steel players will continue to focus on the domestic market when steel demand elsewhere is seen staying comparatively weak with the continued threat of COVID-19, Mysteel has forecast in a special report published on August 5.

On the other hand, China’s total steel imports this year will be in the range of 15-18 million tonnes, up from 12.3 million tonnes in 2019, Mysteel projected.

The trend of weak exports and strong imports seen in H1 will continue and may even strengthen during this half, Mysteel maintained. In H1, China’s steel exports totalled 28.7 million tonnes, 16.5% lower on year, but imports surged 26.1% on year to 7.3 million tonnes, as Mysteel Global reported.

China’s H1 steel exports

Item

June ('000 t)

Jan-Jun ('000 t)

YoY%

Jun

Jan-Jun

Total

3,701

28,704

-303

-165

Bars

400

3,950

-423

-287

Sections

180

1,550

-382

-84

Flats

2,200

17,570

-311

-149

Wire rods

160

910

-78

-108

Source: Customs data

China’s H1 steel imports

Item

June ('000 t)

Jan-Jun ('000 t)

YoY%

Jun

Jan-Jun

Total

1,877

7,341

987

260

Bars

42

262

-81

-26

Sections

23

143

256

80

Flats

1,519

5,738

892

161

Wire rods

95

434

1,655

1,163

Source: Customs data

In H2, total exports are expected to nudge down to 26 million tonnes, and imports to move slightly higher at 8 million tonnes, according to Mysteel’s forecast. All tonnages are for finished steel products only.

“Except for China, no other countries have effectively curtailed the spread of COVID-19, and the recovery in steel demand (elsewhere in the world) has not been as fast as expected,” the report stated, pointing out that this may lead to lower steel prices in these countries and cause Chinese imports to lose price competitiveness.

In addition, steel producers in some major steel producing countries are planning to resume part of their operations and “if these steelmaking (facilities) are fully resumed, overcapacity will be a more serious issue because of the lukewarm demand … (and) may lead to more steel flowing into China,” the report said.

In June, major steel producing countries such as Iran, Turkey and Ukraine saw year-on-year growth in their crude steel production of 5.3%, 4.1% and 9.1% respectively, but output from other countries such as India, Japan and the United States still witnessed declines of 26%-36%, according to the latest World Steel Association statistics.

Written by Olivia Zhang, zhangwd@mysteel.com

Edited by Russ McCulloch, russ.mcculloch@mysteel.com