The Coal Trader

Japanese Steel Exports Rise 1.3% in 2023

In CY’23, steel exports demonstrated their initial upturn in two years, recording a 1.3% y-o-y increase to reach 32.356 million tonnes (mnt), as per data released by the Ministry of Finance. While the Asian steel market exhibited modest growth, exports to high-value markets like the EU exceeded 2 mnt annually for the first time. Non-Asian exports experienced a substantial rise of 30.1% y-o-y, up by 5.2 percentage points and surpassing 30% for the first time since the year 2000.

Despite streamlining domestic production by Japan Steel and JFE Steel, overall demand remains sluggish, except for specific sectors like automotive. However, exports are holding steady, fuelled by the development of high-end products such as thick plates for renewables and a weaker yen.

Projections indicate that steel exports will remain around 30 mnt in CY’24 due to weak domestic demand. An ongoing anti-dumping investigation on Japanese Hot Rolled Coil (HRC) in Turkey may impact exports by 500,000 to 600,000 t annually. The challenging global market conditions pose difficulties in export competition for all steelmakers.

Regional export volumes exhibited mixed outcomes, with China witnessing a notable decline. Chinese demand dipped below 3 mnt for the first time since 1999, marking a 28% y-o-y decrease. In contrast, South Korea, the Middle East, and the EU witnessed positive growth, while the United States, ASEAN, and China experienced slight declines.