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Japan's 2020 steel exports fall 5% to 32.14 mil mt as pandemic dents demand

Highlights

Exports to South Korea, Thailand fall, to China rise 14.5%

Exports to the US fall for fourth straight year

Singapore — Japan's iron and steel product exports fell 4.9% year on year to 32.14 million mt in 2020, data from the Japan Iron & Steel Federation showed Jan. 28, as global demand weakened due to the pandemic.

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The result was cushioned by a slight recovery in December exports, which rose 5% from November to 2.56 million mt, the data showed.

Exports to South Korea fell 11% year on year to 4.81 million mt, with ordinary steel products comprising 65.1% of the total, while exports to Thailand fell 26.5% to 3.81 million mt, with ordinary steel products comprising 53.7%.

However, exports to China rose 14.5% year on year to 5.86 million mt in 2020, with ordinary steel products comprising 55.3%.

The bulk of the ordinary steel products exported to all three counties was hot-rolled wide strip steel at 1.74 million mt, 1.13 million mt and 1.24 million mt, respectively, the data showed.

Total exports to the US fell 30.5% year on year to 890,000 mt, posting a fourth straight year of decline since reaching 2.06 million in 2016.

In the crude steel segment, total exports rose 16.5% year on year to 4.05 million mt in 2020, with exports to China surging threefold to 566,494 mt, the data showed. However Taiwan remained the top destination at 1.26 million mt, despite falling 4.8% from 2019, followed by South Korea at 1.09 million mt, up 9.5%, and Thailand at 639,701 mt, down 0.4%.

Japan's crude steel production fell 16.2% year on year to 83.19 million mt in 2020, sinking below the 100 million mt mark for the first time since 2009, S&P Global Platts reported earlier.

The weakness was attributed to tepid global demand due to the pandemic, Japan's post-Olympic construction lull and a smaller global market amid growing trade protectionism.

Japan's overall economy ended 2020 on a stable note, with the au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing PMI at 50.0 in December, up from 49.0 in November.