China’s steel imports total 38 million mt in 2020, to stay strong in 2021

Wednesday, 03 March 2021 16:45:24 (GMT+3)   |   Shanghai

In 2020, China’s total steel imports rose by 150 percent to 38.56 million mt (including semi-finished steel) amid the strong demand in the country. Moreover, the outlook for this year is also positive.

In 2020, Vietnam’s steel exports to China reached 3.35 million mt, with the major part of this volume consisting of billet shipments by Hoa Phat Group. Also, Formosa Ha Tinh managed to sell its first lots of HRC and slabs to China in 2020, though this has not become a trend.

At the same time, India’s steel exports to China totaled 5.08 million mt in the given year, rising around 15-fold. Indian mills were active in sales of finished steel, HRC in particular, to China in the second quarter as local consumption was hit hard. In the later part of the year, India became a regular supplier of billet to China and has remained interested in sales to China up to the present.

China issued policies to stimulate demand in the local market in 2020 and the fast recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic earlier in the year resulted in increasing steel imports. China's crude steel output even amounted to 1.053 billion mt in 2020, up 5.2 percent year on year.

At the same time, countries in the global market suffered from the negative impact of Covid-19, weakening demand for steel and leading to sharp declines in steel prices across the world. The expanding price gap between local and overseas steel prices made buyers in China purchase relatively low-priced imported steel.

The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) forecasts that the boosting demand from infrastructure investment in China will continue in 2021-2022 and that steel imports may go up slightly this year.

According to the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute (MPI), demand in China is forecast to amount to 991 million mt in 2021, up 1.0 percent year on year.

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