China March steel exports surge 30 pct from year ago

14 April 2016

China exported 9.98 million tonnes of steel products in March, up 30 percent from a year ago, customs data showed on Wednesday, as Chinese steel mills have managed to ship more abroad despite rising anti-dumping measures against the country.

Surging steel exports by China, which produces about half of the world's steel output, have triggered fears by other countries that their domestic steelmakers will not be able to compete with Chinese mills. Exports hit a record 11.25 million tonnes in September.

India's Tata Steel has put its British operations up for sale, blaming the move that leaves thousands of jobs at risk on a flood of cheap Chinese supplies. Those exports are driven by a slowing economy and a supply glut at home.

March steel exports were up 23 percent from February's 8.11 million tonnes and shipments for the first quarter rose 7.9 percent to 27.83 million tonnes from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs showed.

The surge in March exports comes despite warnings from industry officials that Chinese steel exports will fall this year from a record 112 million tonnes in 2015 as protectionist policies are enacted.

Still, with fewer domestic outlets for their production because of a slowing economy and amid overcapacity in the sector, Chinese steelmakers have turned to export markets to stay in business.

Chinese steel production in January and February fell 5.7 percent from a year ago, government data last month showed. However, March output has increased at a modest pace amid a seasonal improvement in demand, according to traders. This boosted iron ore imports in March.

China imported 85.77 million tonnes of iron ore last month, up 6.5 percent from a year ago, customs data showed. Total imports for the first quarter rose 6.5 percent to 241.56 million tonnes on the year, according to the data.

But, iron ore demand in China is still expected to slow this year as the country aims to attack overcapacity in the steel sector.

China aims to cut steel-making capacity by between 100 million and 150 million tonnes in the next five years.


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