Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF) has warned domestic steel and automakers to match their production to demand. With a significant rise in Chinese inventories amid the Covid-19 outbreak, global economies face a threat of a glut of steel. JISF believes the outlook for the domestic and foreign economies is becoming increasingly uncertain.
JISF also states exports and production have stagnated, according to their recently released steel supply and demand trend report. Steel exports in 2019 were 33.79mn mt, down 7.5pc from 2018. Exports fell for a sixth consecutive year. Ordinary steel exports in 2019 were 22.23mn mt, down by 5pc from the year prior. In January, however, Japan’s steel exports increased.
Total steel exports in January were 2.873mn mt, a rise by 14.1pc from Jan 2019. Of the total volume, ordinary steel products (excluding special products of stainless steel) were 1.892mn mt, up by 11.8pc.
Japanese exports were dominated by hot rolled plates which were at 1.04mn mt, up by 46.4pc from the prior year. Exports of HRC plates rose for 10 consecutive months on weakened domestic and rising overseas demand.
Exports of cold-rolled steel were 185,729mt, up by 6.2pc from Jan 18, rising after four months of a downtrend. Exports of other major commodities like galvanized steel were at 10,000mt, up by 3.8pc. Galvanised steel exports rose after registering a decline for 15 months. Planks steel exports dropped for the third month and were at 185,000mt, down by 23.3pc.
South Korea remained the largest overseas market where Japan exported 445,954mt of steel, up by 15.1pc from the prior year. Exports to China rose for the second month to 400,261mt, up by 3.8pc. Thailand imported 301,000mt from Japan, a rise of 29.8pc. Taiwan imported 174,389mt from Japan, up by 60.7pc. Exports to the US were 74,777mt, down by 43.0pc.
Imports of ordinary steel products into Japan were 369,789mt, down by 14.9pc. Cold-rolled steel imports were at 68,000mt, down by 17.2pc. Imports of galvanized steel sheets were at 88,016mt, up by 8.2pc.
South Korea remained the largest supplier of steel products. Japan imported 230,000mt of steel from South Korea, down by 18.3pc from the prior year. Taiwan’s exports to Japan were 82,000mt, 6.1pc down. China exported 52,000mt of steel, down by 16.4pc.