Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) expects the negative trend for EU imports initiated in the fourth quarter of last year to continue. This is mainly due to the reduction in imports from China and the effect of the new safeguard system.
According to the data collected by BI, imports of both flat and long products into Europe had begun to reduce as from October 2018, after they had increased for most of last year. This trend is set to continue as China will continue to curb its sales into Europe, also due to the effect of the appreciation of the yuan against the euro, BI says.
Imports of flat and longs decreased significantly in November and December compared to the previous months of 2018, but remained above the levels seen in the same months of 2017.
While the last months of the year are historically relatively weak in terms of import activity, the negative trend initiated at the end of 2018 could well have continued in Q1. This was due to increasing market uncertainty caused by the approval of the new permanent safeguard system, Kallanish notes.
European imports of steel products (longs and flats) increased by over 1.3 million tonnes to 21.96mt in 2018, according to the latest data published by Eurofer. This was the highest level since 2007.