China steel exports ease in June, aluminium shipments steady

13 July 2017

China's exports of steel products eased in June from the month before as tight local supply kept material at home, while shipments of aluminium were steady, customs data showed on Thursday.

Exports of steel products fell 2.4 percent to 6.81 million tonnes from the previous month, according to Reuters calculations based on the data.

China, the world's largest aluminium producer, exported 460,000 million tonnes of unwrought aluminium and aluminium products in June, in line with the previous month, according to the data.

"Tight (steel) supply and strong prices in the domestic market have enticed mills and traders to focus more at home. Foreign traders are less willing to buy steel from China as the price advantage is less obvious," said Wang Yilin, steel analyst at Sinosteel Futures.

The numbers come amid a trade dispute with the United States, which says China has flooded international markets with cheap aluminium and steel.

In April, Beijing and Washington agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks in a bid to boost access to each other's markets.

"We don't think the 100-day plan between China had much impact on steel exports in June, since the U.S. only takes a very small part among China's total exports," said Wang at Sinosteel Futures.

China has eliminated about 120 million tonnes of low-quality steel capacity in the first half of this year in a bid to tackle a supply glut and fight pollution.

Steel prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange have gained almost 36 percent so far in 2017. Total inventories of rebar remain down after falling to their lowest in six months in early June.