Japan’s new ship export order volumes declined to 7.43mn gt in 2020, down by 19.8pc from the prior year due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, according to Japan Ship Exporters Association’s (JSEA) data. Demand for the new ships dropped drastically as the COVID‑19- related restrictions hampered transport of passengers and goods.
Shipbuilding sector is the largest domestic consumer of steel plate in Japan. In 2020, 146 ships were manufactured for exports against 191 ships in 2019.
In November, ship export orders had jumped by 15.8pc from November 2019 but in December, ship export orders lowered to 879,930 gt, down 4.1pc from the same month last year. Japan received 18 ship export orders in December compared to 20 in the prior year. The overall plate consumption in the country is forecasted to decrease.
Japanese steel industry showed signs of recovery in the December quarter, while export orders for shipbuilding witnessed growth for two consecutive months in November and December by 7pc and 16.6pc, respectively. South Korea and China remain the leading market for ships build in Japan.
According to an earlier forecast, demand for plates used in the Japanese shipbuilding sector is likely to go down by 27pc from the prior year to 2.3mn mt in FY2020-21 (Apr-March), while demand for ordinary steel is forecast to tumble by 21pc in from the prior year to 2.65mn mt.
Despite a recovery in steel demand, lockdowns due to the resurgence of COVID-19 infections in China and the state of emergency in Japan along with the Chinese New Year holidays in mid-February will impact steel consumption in the fourth quarter, said industry sources.