Japan: Nov iron, steel exports rebound 4% from Oct; spikes 18% on year

Japan exported 2.88 million mt of iron and steel products in November, a 3.6% rebound from October and spiking 18.3% year on year, data from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation showed Dec. 27, amid strong demand from several main destinations.

Looking ahead to 2022, the JISF projected annual exports will be similar to 2021, citing a recovery in the global economy and forecasts from the World Steel Association, which expects global steel demand in 2022 to rise 2.2% annually.

Last month, South Korea topped the list of destinations receiving 513,448 mt of Japan’s iron and steel exports, up 7.3% month on month and surging 52.1% against November 2020, the JISF data showed. This comes amid an expanding manufacturing sector as evidenced by the country’s purchasing managers’ index, which widened to 50.9 in November, from 50.2 in October.

Thailand was next at 449,727 mt, down 4.3% from October, but up 14.6% year on year. The mixed outcome seemed reflected in the Thai manufacturing PMI, which slowed to 50.6 in November, from 50.9 in October.

Exports to China were mixed at 419,091 mt, up 3.5% from October, but dipped 0.8% annually. China’s official manufacturing PMI, as published by the National Bureau of Statistics, rebounded to 50.1 in November from 49.2 the month before.

Ordinary steel products made up a good proportion of the overall November exports, coming in at 1.88 million mt, up 4.4% from October 2021 and 20.1% from November 2020. Of the ordinary steel products, hot-rolled wide strips contributed 957,545 mt, up 14.7% month on month and 27.6% year on year.

Of the hot-rolled wide strips, 163,947 mt headed to Thailand, down 3.1% from October, but gained 22.8% annually. About 161,427 mt of the same strips found their way to South Korea, both spiking 26.6% and 70.5% on a monthly and annual basis, respectively.

With the November figures summed up, overall exports over January to November 2021 was 31.59 million mt, up 6.8% versus the corresponding 11 months the year before, and likely to exceed the 32.14 million mt exported for all of 2020.

— Clement Choo