China Jan-Aug steel export down further by 18.6% on year
China exported 36.6 million tonnes of steel products over this year’s January-August period, according to the latest statistics of China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) published on September 7. The decline in the eight-month total at 18.6% on year was steeper than the 17.6% on-year decline over January-July, Mysteel Global notes.
In August alone, China’s total volume of steel exports reached 3.68 million tonnes, which refreshed the low since January 2013, the customs data show.
The record-low volume of steel shipped abroad last month was due to the lacklustre export trading in June when Chinese steel prices were sharply high against global competitors. By then, China was the only major economy whose steel demand had recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels, causing domestic prices to strengthen, whereas steel consumption abroad especially in some Asian countries, had only just started to resume, as Mysteel Global reported at the time.
“Export orders in May and June were still low. Sales only started to recover from July,” a steel analyst based in Shanghai remarked, saying that the low volumes in August were fully expected.
In early June, Chinese exporters of hot-rolled coil would not concede to lower their export prices to below $440/tonne FOB China, but around the same time, the corresponding product sold to China was priced lower at $425-435/t CFR China, as Mysteel Global reported.
The sharp price gap between Chinese steel and steel from mills abroad enabled many Chinese traders and even steel producers to buy these foreign-origin steel products and resell them in China.
Inevitably, Chinese steel imports stayed high last month. Imports of finished steel in August totalled 2.24 million tonnes, down only slightly from a record monthly high of 2.6 million tonnes in July.
Steel imports over January-August totalled 12.2 million tonnes, up by a significant 59.6% on year and steeper than the on-year growth of 49% in the first seven months of this year, according to the latest GACC statistics.