The Coal Trader

India needs value-added exports as China competition intensifies

A slowdown in China’s real estate segment is expected to hurt steel demand, while India needs to change its export strategy, speakers said at Thursday’s 2nd India Steel and Metal Conference in Mumbai attended by Kallanish.

Tata Steel chief of marketing and sales global wires Satyajit Maity said: “There is de-growth in the housing sector in China,” adding that the housing segment stood at 300 million tonnes of demand last year, compared to a projected demand of 280mt in 2024.

China’s social housing segment, renewable energy segment and other such segments will however get a boost, added Maity. “China’s consumption story will be there, but the scale aspect is what we have to watch out for,” he noted. He expects 1 billion tonnes of crude steel production in China in 2024.

Galex Steel International chief executive Gorkem Bolaca observed: “Electric arc furnace production is going to increase in China.” He added the country could become a net importer of scrap, which would change the dynamics of the industry.

Standard Group India ceo Nikunj Turakhia said: “Going forward, Indian mills will have to compete with Chinese mills whether they like it or not, whether they are prepared or not.”

Mitsui Iron and Steel Division general manager Prinson Paul opined: “India’s steel exports will remain under pressure from China, just like calendar year [CY] 2023. Unless they [Indian mills] change their approach in terms of pricing or export products, India may be able to maintain CY23 numbers.” However, he expects Indian steel exports will dip further in CY24.

Industry leaders emphasised a need for India to change its export strategy, with Paul saying: “Indian mills will have to change their mindset and, in order for that to happen, they will have to change their strategy”.

“Indian mills will have to export and maintain their premium in the domestic market,” added Turakhia. Mills will have to increase their efficiency in the domestic market, while maintaining exports will require improving their grade or some other aspect, he added.

Turakhia commented: “Indian mills will have to progress from vanilla grades to value-added grades.” Paul noted that “the future is collaboration”, stating steel mills and end users will need to collaborate to ensure successful business.