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Posted on 22 Apr 2022

Update of China’s steel import and export in 2021

China’s Steel Import

China’s semi-finished steel import subsided significantly, at 32% to 12.5 million tonnes in 2021. 75% of total semi-finished import was billet and the volume declined moderately, at 4% y-o-y to 9.4 million tonnes in 2021. Major sources of billet import for China were Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Oman and Iran, whereby the import volume exceeded a million tonnes in each country. Russia had not been a source of billet import for China before 2019. China started to import billet from Russia during covid-19 years and the volume was as significant as 1.5 million tonnes in 2020 and dropped to half a million tonnes in 2021. China started to import billet from Ukraine in 2020, at half a million tonnes. However, the volume dropped by half in 2021.


Slab import, on the other hand, declined substantially, from 7.3 million tonnes in 2020 to 2.4 million tonnes in 2021.  Major sources of slab were Indonesia, Vietnam and Russia. The import from Indonesia was believed to be from PT Dexin Steel. China started to import slab from Russia in 2019, at 132,184 tonnes. The import volume jumped to 1.7 million tonnes in 2020 and dropped to 248,907 tonnes in 2021.


Section and wire rod import in China dropped 2% and 10% respectively. Meanwhile, import of bars rose significantly, by 26% y-o-y to 3.6 million tonnes. Japan was the main source of section import for China. As for wire rod and bar, Malaysia was the largest source of import. This could be the supply from China’s steel investment in Malaysia.


China’s flat steel production import declined significantly in most of the products. Plates (HRP) import declined 36% y-o-y to 1.6 million tonnes. Hot rolled coil (HRC) import dropped 65% y-o-y to 2.6 million tonnes in 2021. Major sources of HRP and HRC imports were Japan and South Korea. Cold rolled coil (CRC) import reduced 11% y-o-y to 3.3 million tonnes in 2021. Major sources of import were South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan.


China’s import of electro galvanized sheet, tin plate and tin free registered a positive growth of 19% and 21% respectively. However, import of hot dipped galvanized sheet, galvalume coated sheet, color coated sheet and other coated sheet dropped moderately. Import of both seamless pipes and welded pipes declined 14% and 2% respectively.

China’s Steel Export

China’s export of semi-finished steel was as low was 35,994 tonnes in 2021. Export of section dropped 13% y-o-y to 1.7 million tonnes. 60% of section export was alloyed section. Most of export was sent to Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and Myanmar.


Bar export increased 13.8% y-o-y to 4.8 million tonnes in 2021. 70% of the export was registered as alloyed bar. One fourth of the bar export was sent to South Korea. China’s export of wire rod increased 11% y-o-y to 3.3 million tonnes and 80% of which was alloyed wire rod. Major destinations for wire rod export were South Korea and ASEAN countries.


Plates export from China subsided slightly, at 2% y-o-y. Export carbon plates jumped from 149,247 tonnes to 1.3 million tonnes while export of alloyed plates dropped from 3 million tonnes to 1.8 million tonnes. It is presumed that this is the adjustment of the export report. Major destinations were Vietnam and South Korea.


On the other hand, export of hot rolled coil jumped to nearly double in volume to 10.8 million tonnes in 2021. China export HRC to various countries, largely to Vietnam, South Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.


China’s export of cold rolled coil to many countries and the volume nearly double to 8.8 million tonnes in 2021. Major markets were South Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, Brazil and India.


As for coated sheet, many of coated sheet export, including galvanized sheet, tin plate and tin free and other coated sheet surged significantly, at 20-66% y-o-y. Export of color coated sheet, on the other hand, dropped 1.7% y-o-y. Major destinations were Thailand, South Korea, Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam.


China’s export of both seamless pipes and welded pipes increased moderately, at 4-5% y-o-y. China sells pipes to many countries, mainly to countries in ASEAN, Asia, Middle East and Africa.