Vietnamese steel exports surged in 2018 while import volumes fell more slowly, according to the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA). Steelmaking raw materials imports, meanwhile, have been driven by the ramping up of Formosa Ha Tinh, Kallanish notes.
Vietnam’s import volumes were down -9.6% year-on-year in 2018 at 13.6 million tonnes, VSA says. Because of higher prices, imports by value were up 9% to $9.9 billion. Imports were still mainly from China, Japan and Korea but imports from China have slowed sharply.
Chinese customs data shows that over January-November 2018 China exported 6.44mt of steel to Vietnam, down -10.89% y-o-y. This was mainly due to high Chinese prices but also because of the ramp-up of Vietnam’s domestic capacity.
Vietnam’s exports saw the most dramatic growth, however, up 33.5% y-o-y to 6.3mt. These were mainly to the USA, Thailand and Cambodia. By value, exports were up 44.8% at $4.6 billion. Vietnamese re-rollers and galvanisers say they are actively looking for new export markets as the domestic market has not been strong and they are concerned about being shut out of the US market. Domestic finished steel producers are producing at only 63% capacity utilisation, notes VSA.
Another driver of steel and raw materials trade, meanwhile, is the ramping up of Son Duong port, which serves Formosa Ha Tinh Steel. This is only the third major deep-water port in Vietnam. It expects to see imports increase to 28mt in 2019 from 21.6mt in 2018. This is driven by Formosa Ha Tinh ramping up to capacity at its two blast furnaces. The port mainly handles iron ore and coal imports but is also the base for Formosa’s exports of hot rolled coil and wire rod. The port now has twelve wharfs handling ships up to 200,000dwt.