China’s exports slip but imports soaring

China saw its finished steel exports recover slightly on-month in July. Imports however continue to increase, and the country is expected to remain a net steel importer, Kallanish notes.

In July, China exported 4.176 million tonnes of finished steel, up from 3.701mt in June but still down -25% year-on-year, according to official Chinese Customs data. That brought exports over the first seven months of the year to 32.88mt, down -17.6% y-o-y.

With Chinese domestic steel prices high, export markets have been subdued this year. Now that domestic prices are increasing and domestic demand is expected to peak in the coming months, there is likely to be few opportunities to increase exports.

Finished steel imports meanwhile hit 2.606mt in June, up 38.8% month-on-month and around 210% y-o-y. Over January-July, finished steel imports are now 9.948mt, up 49.3% y-o-y and close to the 12.3mt imported over the whole of 2019.

These numbers do not include trade in semi-finished steel and so currently downplay imports. In June China imported 2.488mt of semis and those trade flows have remained strong. China officially became a net steel importer in June for the first time since July 2009. It is now expected to be a net importer for much of the second half of the year.