JAPAN DATA: 2021 iron, steel exports rise 7% on hikes to Thailand, US

Japan’s iron and steel product exports rose 7% year on year to 34.4 million mt in 2021, data from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation showed Jan. 31, led by hikes in shipments to Thailand and the US.

Exports to main buyer Thailand rose 55.4% year on year to 5.93 million mt and to the US rose 32.5% over the same period to 1.18 million mt.

Hot rolled wide strips accounted for 2.04 million mt of the products shipped to Thailand, non-stainless specialty steel 1.76 million mt and semi-finished steel products 0.6 million mt.

Exports to second-highest recipient China fell 12.6% year on year to 5.12 million mt, and to third-highest recipient South Korea rose 1.8% to 4.9 million mt.

China’s overall finished steel imports fell 29.5% year on year to 14.268 million mt in 2021, Chinese customs data showed, due mainly to a higher base in 2020, when China was a net steel importer over June-September while overseas markets were in lockdown.

Japan’s largest iron and steel product export category in 2021 was hot-rolled wide strips, which accounted for nearly a third of the exports at 10.65 million mt, down 1.9% year on year, followed by specialty steel products at 7.68 million mt, up 31.6% over the same period.

Hot-rolled wide strips accounted for a large proportion of the exports to Thailand and the US, with shipments to Thailand surging 80.4% year on year to 2.04 million mt and to the US surging 78.9% to 266.796 mt. Exports of the strips to China fell 24% to 920,796 mt.

Japan’s iron and steel product exports in the first quarter of 2022 were expected to remain relatively stable with Q4 2021, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Dec. 23, citing weaker overseas demand and potential downside pressure from coronavirus variants.

— Clement Choo, Samuel Chin