S. Korea's steel imports drop 8.5 pct in April

12 May 2015

South Korea's imports of steel shrank in April from a year earlier, caused by slumping demand and increased inventory, industry data showed Tuesday.

South Korea imported 1.84 million tons of steel last month, down 8.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Iron & Steel Association.

Steel imports had expanded for 14 straight months until December before slowing down this year. Cheaper products from China, in particular, flowed into the market, causing a supply glut and hurting domestic steelmakers.

The drop in April stemmed mostly from declining imports from China and Japan, which fell 5.1 percent and 8 percent to 1.11 million tons and 619,000 tons, respectively.

The country's cumulative steel imports during the January-April period came to some 7.4 million tons, a 3.8 percent fall from a year earlier. Imports from China and Japan shrank 1.4 percent and 9.8 percent during the cited period.

"Slumping demand and inventory that has been accumulated here seem to be behind last month's drop in steel imports," an association official said. "Still, it is early to say that this is the start of a downward trend."