Finished steel exports from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam have registered significant growth in early 2021, although the pandemic slowed economic growth in 2020. Most steel producers benefited from strong demand in China and could capitalize on it to fill supply gaps with exports to the country in Q1 2021. Thailand and the Philippines were leading net importers, whereas Singapore’s flat steel inbound cargo rose to create re-export opportunities, according to a presentation by Yeoh Wee Jin, at the SEAISI 50th anniversary e-conference & exhibition.
Exports of finished steel, especially plates and stainless steel, neared 1mn mt levels to 955,000mt in 2020 following ramped-up capacities. In Q1 2021, exports dropped to 128,386mt from 222,283mt in the same year-ago period. China was the largest buyer of Indonesian flat steel products.
Stainless hot-rolled coil exports were at 339,146mt, in Q1 this year. Around half of the volume was shipped to Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and China.
In Q1 2021, exports of billet and slab jumped to 459,731mt and 75,527mt, respectively. Half of the volumes were to China, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Slab exports stood at 75,527mt, with China, Thailand, and South Korea emerging as the leading importers.
Long products led the jump in Malaysian steel exports. Rebar exports from the country climbed to 2.5mn mt in 2020, continuing the upward momentum to finish Q1 2021 at 691,796mt from 184,384mt in the prior year. China held a significant share of Malaysian rebar, and wire rod exports following domestic overcapacity. Exports of wire rods were at 3.3mn mt in 2020 from 1.3mn in 2019. Shipments, however, slowed down by 39pc to 566,691mt in Q1 2021. Total wire rod exports to China dropped 32pc from the prior year to 165,498mt in Q1 2021, followed by the export to Thailand at 134,716mt.
Meanwhile, exports of most flat steel products declined. China remained the largest market for Malaysia’s billet export in Q1 2021, occupying an 85pc share. Billet exports dropped by half to 131,756mt in Q1 2021.
In Q1 2021, Vietnamese exports increased significantly to various countries, including Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, China, and Malaysia.
Exports of HRC rose 4.3pc to 800,000mt but declined by nearly half for CRC to just 500,000mt in 2020. In Q1 2021, HRC exports doubled while CRC dropped by 10pc from the prior year. Major importers were Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Exports of hot-dipped galvanized sheets doubled in Q1 2021 than in the prior year, with Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia being the top destinations.
Billet exports were recorded at 500,000mt in Q1 2021, half of which was to China, followed by Thailand and Indonesia.
Thailand relies heavily on flat steel import, at 80pc of its total flat steel demand. Exports of HRC surged 30pc from the prior year to 1mn mt. Exports of CRC increased 29pc to 500,000mt in the same period. Total steel exports picked up moderately at 6pc from Q1 2020.
In Q1 2021, the imports of steel products dropped significantly except those of rebar, which grew three folds driven by resumed domestic construction activities after the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020. Imports of flat steel, however, dropped except for those of HDG sheets.
Amid the pandemic situation, slowdown in construction activities due to the lack of workforce affected steel imports. Flat steel shipments contracted, except those of hot-dipped galvanized sheets, which surged 48pc to 31,600mt in Q1 2021.
In Q1 2021, finished steel exports from Singapore dropped 17.8pc from the prior year to 305,749mt. Meanwhile, exports of wire rods doubled in volume, and exports of coated sheets also registered double-digit growth in the same period. Singapore has no finished flat production, hence most of the flat products are imported and then re-exported.