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Japan’s May steel exports post first on-year rise in 16 months

Japan’s steel exports in May rose 0.8% year on year and were up 13.6% from April at 3.22 million mt, posting the first year-on-year increase in 16 months, Japan Iron & Steel Federation data released Friday showed.

A JISF official said overall production increased in May, resulting in steel mills having supply available for export. “But total exports were not high; Japanese mills continue to put priority on domestic supply,” he said.

Exports of key export product HRC fell 4.8% year on year but were up 18.2% from April at 900,854 mt, and of plate surged 44.4% on year and rose 13.4% on month to 237,624 mt.

The JISF official said plate exports in May last year were low due to a stoppage at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp’s Oita plate mill after a fire four months earlier. “Plate export increases might be a reason lifting overall exports in May,” he said.

Japan’s May steel exports to South Korea dipped 0.8% on year but were up 13.4% on month at 472,104 mt, to Thailand rose 13.4% on year and rose 29.6% from April to 506,191 mt and to China fell 12.3% year on year and fell 10.4% on month to 429,044 mt.

Exports to the US fell 17.1% on year and 11% from April to 129,464 mt in May, and the JISF official said it not clear if this was related to higher import duties imposed by the US.

“We hear that end-users in the US continue buying Japanese steel products, paying higher duties, because there are no alternatives, so the drop to the US might be temporary,” he said.
Source: Platts

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