China’s Steel Demand Slides From Peak While Exports Supported

China’s steel consumption is set to decline this year as demand from property, autos, ships and appliances weakens, according to the China Iron and Steel Association

The country’s apparent crude steel demand fell 6 percent in the first quarter, CISA said in a report posted on its website Wednesday. Faltering consumption at home will sustain exports as producers seek profits overseas. China’s exports of steel products in the first quarter rose 41 percent from the same period last year to 25.8 million tons, customs data shows.

“There will be difficulty growing steel demand and it’s apparent we’ve reached a peak in steel consumption,” CISA said in the report. “China’s steel export competitiveness is still evident, and exports will not be substantially reduced.”

Property development is falling for a second year, automobile production growth has slowed, shipbuilding activity dropped and home appliance output -- except for washing machines -- slid in the first quarter, according to CISA. Revenue during that period by major steel mills tracked by the association fell more than 14 percent.

China accounted for more than half of global steel output in March, according to the World Steel Association. It made more than twice the next four biggest producers combined -- Japan, India, the U.S. and Russia.

The country will continue to export large volumes of steel as stronger demand outside of the country supports prices, according to the association.

The country’s crude steel output fell in the first three months of the year, the first decline over that period in 20 years, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Production from January to March slid 1.7 percent from a year earlier to 200.1 million metric tons.

— With assistance by Feiwen Rong, and Martin Ritchie

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