International Steel Mills

Chinese Steel Exports Down Sharply in May

Written by Tim Triplett

China’s steel exports in May decline by 23.3 percent compared with May 2019 to about 4.4 million tons. Global demand for Chinese steel products remains weak as economic activity around the world is hampered by the coronavirus. “Customers in each country are losing their willingness to buy,” said a Steel Market Update source in the region. Various countries have filed antidumping cases against China, adding to the resistance to its steel exports.

The recovery of China’s economy as coronavirus restrictions have been lifted has added to domestic demand, raising steel prices on the home front. Chinese mills do not want to export if it would force them to cut prices. “At present, no one sees that China’s export prices for steel products are cheap,” said the source.

China’s cumulative steel exports from January-May totaled 25 million tons, down 8.4 percent from the same period last year. If this pace continues, China’s exports will total a little over 60 million tons in 2020, the lowest level since 55.7 million tons in 2012.

China’s steel imports increased in May by 3.9 percent to nearly 1.3 million tons compared with the same month last year. That total was a 27.5 percent jump from the prior month. Much of the imported steel was in the form of slabs and billets for rolling as not all of China’s domestic steelmakers have resumed upstream operations. Cumulatively, Chinese steel imports from January-May totaled nearly 5.5 million tons, a 12 percent increase from the same period last year.

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