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China May iron ore imports down 8.9% m/m amid rising overseas demand

China’s iron ore imports in May fell 8.9% from a month earlier, official customs data showed on Monday, as shipments from major miners were at lower seasonal levels while recovering overseas markets took more of the steelmaking ingredient.

The country took in 89.79 million tonnes of iron ore last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed, down from 98.57 million tonnes in April. May imports, however, were up 3.2% from the same month in 2020.

Iron ore arrivals have fallen for two straight months as supplies from top producers in Australia and Brazil are typically lower due to seasonal factors such as disruptions due to weather.

A recovering global economy has also meant higher demand for the steelmaking ingredient in overseas markets, said Wang Yingwu, analyst with Huatai Futures in Beijing.

“The proportion of iron ore shipped to China from Australia fell a lot recently, and we can see the decline to continue in coming months,” Wang said, referring to robust consumption in other countries and a high base of China imports in 2020.

In the first five months of the year, China imported 471.77 million tonnes of iron ore, up 6% from the same period in 2020, according to the customs data.

STEEL TRADE

The data also showed China’s May steel exports plunged 33.9% from a month earlier to 5.27 million tonnes. This came after Beijing cancelled tax rebates for most of its steel exports from May 1 to secure supply of the industrial metal.

The country’s steel imports in May stood at 1.21 million tonnes, rising 2.7% from April, according to the customs data.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Tom Hogue)

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