Japanese steel exports increased to 2.68mn mt in February, up by 10pc from January, but lagged by 9pc from the prior year, according to the preliminary data released by Japan’s Ministry of Finance.
Asian buyers witnessed a recovery in economic activities leading to a rise in steel demand. Japanese exporters grabbed export opportunities witnessing the highest monthly export volume since May 2020. Exports remained concentrated in the Asia region marking the highest share of about 2.06mn mt, up 4.9pc from January, while compared to the prior year, exports dropped by 11.7pc in February.
In February, Steel imports rose by 6.4pc to around 595,694mt from the prior year.
In the first ten months of FY2020, (April 2020-January 2021), consumption of Japanese steel products in the domestic market and overseas markets decreased to 46.76mn, down by 10.9pc from the prior year, according to Japan Iron and Steel Federation (JISF) data.
Steel consumption was dented due to weak demand from downstream industries.
Domestic steel consumption dropped to 29.86mn mt in April-January, down by 11pc from the prior period. Consumption of Japan’s automotive sector dropped by 20.3pc from the prior year to 5.49mn mt as car sales were impacted due to COVID-19.
The shipbuilding sector’s consumption decreased to 2.43mn mt, down by 23.5pc from the prior year on low orders. The construction sector’s consumption was 8.57mn mt, up 0.8pc from the prior year.
In January 2021, domestic finished carbon steel sales or consumption totalled 3.28mn mt, down 3.6pc from the prior month. Steel orders were higher by 3.8pc in January 2021 in comparison to the same month the prior year. Thus, steel demand in Japan is gradually recovering stated JISF. Auto demand dropped by 3.7pc from December to 695,000mt.
Steel orders leapt to the year’s high in December but in January demand for steel decreased a bit amid less active automotive and shipbuilding sectors ahead of the Chinese Lunar Year holidays in February. The demand for construction steel continued to recover in January which increased to 974,000mt by 5.6pc from December 2020 and 22.5pc from the prior year.