The spate of attacks on vessels plying the Red Sea by the Houthi rebel group in western Yemen has prompted Chinese exporters including steelmakers to re-think their Middle East sales strategies over the past few weeks, a new Mysteel survey has found. Those cooling their export activities to the region cite increased costs, prolonged transit times, and delays to cargo shipments, while other Chinese steel mills continue to table offers there, but at higher prices.
For example, as of December 27, the export price of Chinese SS400 3mm hot-rolled coil (HRC) under Mysteel’s assessment was at $615/tonne CFR Dubai from North China’s Tianjin port, higher by $15/t from December 1.
The result was also in line with the latest offering price for HRC to the United Arab Emirates from a steel exporter in East China’s Zhejiang province who added that export prices of HRC delivered to Turkey would be higher as shipping costs to this country are now $5-10/t above those to the UAE.
“Ocean freight for bulk cargos has increased by 10-15% recently, and rates for containers have even doubled, lifting the offering prices of steel to the Middle East,” the Zhejiang-based steel exporter explained.
New steel export orders from Middle East buyers may decrease in the short term, as both the local buyers there and Chinese steel mills are preferring to wait-and-see for the moment, she pointed out.
But from the Chinese side, marking time may not continue for long, she believed, pointing out that some Chinese exporters are still willing to do business with Middle East buyers if they can agree on a price.
During January-November this year, China’s finished steel exports to the three of the major Middle East countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey – totalled 10.15 million tonnes, accounting for about 12% of China’s total steel exports during the same period, Mysteel Global calculated based on the latest data from China’s General Administration of Customs.