Europe emerges as leading destination for Indian steel exports

Italy and Belgium emerged as the number one and two destinations for India’s finished steel exports over April to June, pushing Vietnam to third place, latest provisional data from India’s Joint Plant Committee showed.

The quarterly exports to Italy surged by more than 4.6 times year on year to 546,900 mt, while shipments to Belgium spiked by more than 3.5 times to 496,800 mt from Q2 2020. A year ago, China was the leading destination for Indian exports, followed by Vietnam and the UAE. Exports to China plummeted to 2,400 mt in Q2 from 965,000 mt as the country rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic and reclaimed its status as a net exporter of steel in October 2020 after being a net importer over June to September.

Unlike its European counterparts, Q2 exports to Vietnam sank 55.3% from the year before to 420,700 mt. The fall was due to local steelmaker Hoa Phat, which started up a new 3.5 million mt/year hot-rolled coil mill in May 2020, and 2021 will be the first year that the mill is operational for an entire year.

However, shooting up to fourth place was Turkey, which skyrocket more than 44.8 times annually to 233,000 mt as Indian HRC prices were much lower than Turkish prices.

S&P Global Platts reported on June 24 that Turkish mills were trying to keep their offers firm above $1,100/mt EXW, while Indian suppliers had lowered their HRC offers to as low as $980-$990/mt CFR, from $1,020-$1,030/mt CFR at the end of May.

Monthly Turkish Statistical Institute data shared with Platts on July 1 showed Turkish mills imported 130,000 mt of HRC from India in May, although no HRC cargoes were imported from that country in the same month of 2020.

JPC’s data showed 220,600 mt of HR coils/strips were shipped to Turkey over Q2, while Italy and Belgium received 308,300 mt and 112,000 mt, respectively.

As for other flat steel products, India exported 3,600 mt of cold-rolled coils/sheets and coated steel products to Turkey in Q2, a far cry from the 176,300 mt and 329,600 mt sent to Italy and Belgium.

Flat steel exports to Vietnam could fall further in Q3 as Maruichi Sun Steel Joint Stock Co., or Sunsco, started operations of its No. 2 cold-rolling mill at Binh Duong province on July 1.

Nevertheless, when combined, Italy and Belgium accounted for 29.3% of India’s overall Q2 finished steel exports of 3.56 million mt, while Vietnam was responsible for 11.8% and Turkey made up 6.6%.

— Clement Choo