The Coal Trader

China steel exports hit 7-year high in 2023

China steel exports hit 7-year high to over 90 mnt in CY'23

China’s steel exports continued to rise during January-December 2023, according to the China’s General Administration of Customs. Export volumes in 2023 rose by 36.2% y-o-y to 90.264 million tonnes (mnt) against 66.45 mnt for the same period in 2022. China’s steel exports have rocketed to new heights, exceeding 90 mnt for the first time since 2015.

Export volumes in December 2023 amounted to 7.728 mnt, up by 43% y-o-y against 5.4 mnt in December 2022. However, volumes saw a decline of about 4% m-o-m against 8.01 mnt in November 2023.

Factors influencing exports:

Weak domestic demand: Subdued domestic demand left Chinese steel mills with little choice but to set their sights beyond national borders. An oversupply of finished steel and sluggish domestic sales further fueled this export surge, propelling China’s steel products to gain ground in the international market.

In addition, the sluggish recovery of the Chinese economy, with real estate development being a major drag on growth, has led steel mills to seek overseas markets to reduce losses.

Export offers:

Competitive pricing in international markets has been a game-changer for China’s steel industry, boosting both production and shipments. HRC export offers dropped sharply from $636/t in January 2023 to $575/t by December, driving a significant increase in steel exports.

Another contributing factor to China’s export success was the temporary withdrawal of Indian HRC offers from key markets like Southeast Asia and the Middle East last year.

Currency depreciation:

As the Chinese yuan fell sharply against the US dollar in the year 2023, Chinese steelmakers offered lower prices internationally, without sacrificing profit margins, making their exports even more attractive. The RMB eroded almost 9% since its highest point in January (6.71) till its lowest of 7.36 in September. However, the Chinese yuan began appreciating against the dollar in November 2023 (7.19).


Despite achieving a record of 90 million tonnes in 2023, China’s steel exports are expected to ease in 2024 while remaining robust at over 80 mnt. China’s resilient steel exports are anticipated to encounter heightened safeguards in 2024, with the EU, Brazil, and India initiating additional anti-subsidy investigations, imposing import duties, and approving stringent quality parameters, potentially leading to a reduction in export volumes.