The export decline was steeper than the 11.7% for the first four months, with the total volume slightly over 25 million tonnes.
“Business (steel exports) is extremely hard this year, personally I feel even worse than what the official data has shown,” commented a steel exporter from North China’s Tianjin noted, predicting that the country’s steel exports volume to be “axed” this year.
China’s steel exports had surged in March and April, mainly to fulfill the deals signed in the prior couple of months, as economic activities and logistics had been seriously disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak over late-January to early March across China, forcing Chinese steel suppliers to find buyers in the overseas market to ease the pressure from the piling inventories, as reported.
For May alone, China’s steel exports reached 4.4 million tonnes, or down from 6.3 million tonnes for April, according to the GACC data.
In contrast, China’s steel imports rose more substantially than the 7.4% on-year increase for the first four months, approximating 5.5 million tonnes over January-May, as the country has become a potential destination for steel exports starting March when the country has gradually recovered from the virus outbreak while many other countries in the worlds have been hit hard by the virus, and their economies had stalled.
“Suddenly China has become the only buyer in the world,” a Hong Kong-based steel exporter commented at the end of March when many bookings were fulfilled later in May. Among the products, a large quantity of semi-finished including slabs and billets, and hot-rolled coils were imported from the countries such as South Korea, India and Turkey, Mysteel Global understands.
For May, China’s steel imports totalled 1.28 million tonnes, up from 1 million tonnes in April.
China’s steel exports may face consistent challenges mainly due to the lack of pricing competitiveness in the global market even if the worldwide demand may recover gradually starting late May when many countries have eased the pandemic restriction measures step by step.
By the end of May, Chinese exporters offered their B500B 18-25mm rebar at $431/t on overage in terms of FOB Shanghai, much higher than the supplies from Turkey priced at $420/t CFR Hong Kong, as reported.