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EUROFER - Update on steel imports into EU in Q1 of 2019

Steel News - Published on Thu, 16 May 2019

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Following the near 13% rise in total imports, including semi-finished products, over the whole year 2018, the increase eased to 2% YoY over the first two months of 2019. Including SURV2 data for March 2019 finished product imports fell by 3% year-on-year over the first quarter, owing to a 5% YoY increase in flat product imports and a 24% drop in long product imports. The average monthly volume of finished products in the first quarter of 2019 amounted to 2.42 million tonnes. This implies that even though there was a slight moderation compared with the same quarter of 2018, monthly imports so far this year were 9.5% higher than in the second half of 2018 while remaining very close to the elevated level of monthly imports registered over the whole year 2018.

Imports by country of origin

Over the first three months of 2019, the main countries of origin for finished steel imports into the EU market were Turkey, Russia, South Korea, China and Ukraine. These five countries represented 67% of total finished steel imports into the EU.

Turkey retained its position as both the largest exporter of finished steel products to the EU and the country showing the strongest year-on-year rise of the ten major countries of origin of EU finished steel imports.

Imports from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were also on a rising trend over the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, imports from India and Brazil were significantly lower than in the corresponding period of 2018; to a lesser extent this is also true for imports from Taiwan and South Korea. Imports from China stabilised around the level seen in the previous year.

Imports by product category

EU imports of finished steel products over the whole year 2018 were characterised by the massive increase in long products imports, at a rate of 33%, and a more moderate 7% rise in flat product imports. As a consequence, long imports accounted for 25% of total finished steel imports. Trade data for the first quarter of 2019 showed a different import pattern with a continued but slightly lower rise in flat product imports of 5% YoY and a 24% YoY reduction in long product imports. This resulted in the share of long products in total finished steel product imports being reduced to 19%.

Organic coated sheet, hot-rolled wide strip and hot-dipped galvanised sheet product imports registered the strongest year-on-year rise (by 21%, 15% and 14% respectively) over the first three months of 2019. Imports of other flat products such as cold-rolled sheet, quarto plate and tin mill products registered a moderate decline compared with the same period of 2018.

The drop in long product imports in the first quarter of 2019 resulted in monthly imports falling below the average monthly level of long product imports registered in 2018. The most pronounced reduction was seen in rebar: imports were 30% down compared with imports in the first quarter of 2018. Imports of merchant bar, wire rod and heavy sections fell by 23%, 22% and 12% YoY respectively.

With only customs data available for the first quarter of 2019 it is difficult to provide a balanced assessment of the likely trend in imports in the remainder of this year. Nevertheless, with imports remaining at elevated levels and exports on a downward trend in early 2019, the justified conclusion seems to be that there is no evidence of an easing in competitive pressures in international steel markets.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Thu, 16 May 2019
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