Japan's steel exports fell 2.5% year on year to 3.37 million mt in March, marking the fourteenth consecutive month of year-on-year decline, latest Japan Iron & Steel Federation data showed Monday.
However, the total was up 12% from February.
JISF trade data officials were unavailable for comment Monday, but a Tokyo-based trader attributed the steady declines to firm domestic demand, which left mills with fewer cargoes for export.
Of the March total, HRC exports were down 9.9% on year but up 6.3% from February at 945,773 mt, CRC exports down 14% on year and up 24.8% from February at 218,958 mt, and galvanized sheet exports down 15.8% on year but up 2.2% from February at 229,509 mt.
"The decrease in sheet products was clear because those are Japan's key export items; mills will not be able to lift their sheet exports for a while," the trader said.
In contrast, Japan's plate exports in March surged 83.2% on year and by 59.7% from February to 296,735 mt.
The trader attributed the sharp rise to an outage at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp's Oita plate mill in early 2017 that cut the year-ago total. "It also included the plate export increase to South Korea; demand from shipbuilders in South Korea is improving," he added.
Japan's plate exports to South Korea surged 199.2% year on year to 64,338 mt in March.
Meanwhile, Japan's steel exports over the full fiscal year April 2017-March 2018 were down 7.3% year on year at 37,723 mt, the data showed.