Steel exports from China in January-February increased by 29.8% year-on-year to 10.14 million tonnes due to the recovery in global steel demand and competitive steel prices in China.
The General Administration of Customs of China released combined data for January and February, noting the impact of the lunar New Year holidays, which usually fall during this period.
The monthly average is 5.07 million tons, up from 4.85 million tons in December last year.
Most of the steel export shipments in January-February were spot orders received in November and December last year, when prices in China and in overseas markets tended to rise during the recovery from coronavirus 19. Rebar prices from a warehouse in Shanghai, as estimated by Argus. from November 2 to December 31, rose 660 yuan per tonne ($ 101 per tonne) to 4470 yuan per tonne. Argus’s Zhangjiagang Rebar Index increased $ 131 /t, or 27.6%, over the same period to $ 606 /t. Despite the sharp rise in prices, export steel prices in China continued to be lower than those from other major exporting countries. The price of steel bars in Turkey, as estimated by Argus, increased by $ 186.50 per tonne, or 41.6 percent, to $ 635 per tonne per tonne, effective weight from November 2 to the end of last year.
China’s exports could pick up further this month as more steel mills rely on export sales as domestic trade eased in January ahead of the lunar New Year holidays on February 11-17. Exports are likely to contract in April and May as domestic steel demand surged this month on the back of seasonal increases in construction steel consumption in China. Strong demand and optimistic market expectations pushed warehouse prices for rebar in Shanghai by March 3 to 4,750 yen per tonne, the highest level since Argus launched the price series in April 2018.
“The current export prices for Chinese rebar are $ 25-30 per tonne higher than those in Turkey, and Chinese businesses are not showing much interest in exporting,” said a Singaporean buyer.
Steel imports to China rose 17.2% year-on-year to 2.39 million tonnes in January-February. Its imports in 2020 increased by 64.4% compared to 2019 to 20.23 million tons.