Steel Exports by China Top 100 Million Tons for First Time

  • Shipments jump 22% this year as mills seek overseas markets
  • Iron ore imports climb as high-cost domestic supplies shutter

Steel exports by China exceeded 100 million metric tons for the first time as iron ore imports increased amid a shuttering of high-cost domestic supply. The steel sales through November rival output by Japan, the world’s second-biggest producer.

Shipments of steel products climbed 22 percent to 101.7 million tons in the first 11 months, according to customs data. Inbound cargoes of iron ore increased 22 percent to 82.13 million tons in November from a year earlier.

Iron ore has plunged 45 percent this year, spurring the closure of high-cost mines in China and forcing mills to boost reliance on foreign supplies. Steelmakers battling losses have stepped up exports to compensate for shrinking domestic demand as economic growth slows. China makes about half the world’s steel and buys more than two-thirds of its seaborne iron ore.

“We do see steel exports in general remaining elevated as China exports its domestic surplus,” Daniel Hynes, a commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said by e-mail. Iron ore “imports are gaining market share in China compared with domestic production,” he said.

Steel exports from China climbed to 9.61 million tons last month from 9.02 million tons in October, customs data show. The sales through November compare with production of 111 million tons by Japan last year, according to World Steel Association data.

The flood of steel will ease next year as overseas demand slows and global trade friction increases, the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute says. JPMorgan Chase & Co. forecasts shipments will peak in 2015 as the cargoes spur a wave of protectionism around the world. India plans to impose more curbs on imports before the year-end, the government says.

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