Japan’s April ferrous scrap exports reached the highest monthly tally since 2016, according to the data released by the Ministry of finance. A sharp drop in domestic demand and increased purchases from leading importer countries like South Korea and Vietnam drove these exports despite the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
In April 2020, Japan exported 903,016mt of ferrous scrap from 617,334mt in April 2019 and from 866,254mt in March 2019. Japan exported 350,616mt ferrous scrap to South Korea, down by 5.5pc from April 2019, but up from 285,580mt in March 2020.
Followed by other major destinations for Japanese scrap were Vietnam, Taiwan and Bangladesh. Vietnam imported 301,650mt ferrous scrap, up from 165,596mt ferrous scrap in April 2019. Taiwan and Bangladesh imported 101,262mt and 61,359mt in April 2020 from Japan.
The country’s domestic demand and crude steel production remained hit amid a state of emergency announced by the Japanese government in mid-April.
In Jan-April, ferrous scrap exports from Japan increased by 38.8pc to 3.31mn mt from the prior year, according to Ministry of Finance statistics. Top three importers South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan accounted for 78.2pc or 2.59mn mt. Japanese exports to South Korea dropped by 19.9pc to 1.19mn mt from the prior-year period while exports to Vietnam and Taiwan increased by 99.3pc and 145.1pc or 1.13mn mt and 404,000mt, respectively. Bangladesh emerged as the fourth-largest importer with a four-fold rise to 270,000mt.
Japan’s steel industry has recorded the lowest monthly crude steel output in 11 years in April. The country produced 6.62mn mt of crude steel in April 2020, down by 23.5pc from April 2019, according to the World Steel Association’s data. Blast furnace production went down by 25pc to 4.84mn mt from the prior year while steel output from EAF mills was 1.77mn mt, down by 18pc from April 2019. A fall in EAF steel output led to limited domestic scrap consumption and higher exports.