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Japan’s steel exports hit 15-month high in May
Date:Jul. 4, 2012
A weaker Japanese yen helped Japan’s steel exports in May to surge past 4m tonnes for the first time in 15 months, the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF) announced on 2 July. Total steel exports reached 4.01mt, a 30% increase from April and a 21% climb year-on-year.

Within the total, carbon steel exports grew 25% month-on-month or by 14.5% y-o-y to 2.53m t and those of special steel jumped 34% m-o-m and by 31.4% y-o-y to 822,536t.

Prompting the surge was mainly the weaker yen in March and April, a JISF spokesman told Platts Steel Business Briefing. Auto sector demand abroad has been strong and this also drove flat rolled exports, he added. Galvanized sheet shipments to China and Thailand grew by 33% and 39.5% from April to reach 99,115t and 115,357t respectively.

Semi-finished exports surged 67% m-o-m to 555,002t, mostly to Taiwan, which seemed to reflect stronger liftings from the Wakayama works of Sumitomo Metal Industries (SMI) to Taiwan’s China Steel Corp that partly owns SMI's upstream facilities.

“The Japanese mills were aggressive to export over the weaker yen, and shipments were increased to (Japanese-invested) companies abroad,” the spokesman said. “But 4m t is very high, and the yen has strengthened again so exports in coming months will be lower,” he added.

Meanwhile, Japan’s total steel imports in May reached 687,366t, up 8.3% from April but down 8.2% from May 2011. The currency was not a factor, the JISF spokesman said, because imported materials are already accepted by Japanese users who regularly purchase imported materials.

© Steel Business Briefing 2012