SHANGHAI, Oct 24 (SMM) – China's imports of steel billet and rolled forging hit an all-time high in September as domestic restrictions on scrap imports drove consumers to cheaper alternatives from other Asian countries.
According to the latest customs data on October 23, China imported 370,000 mt of steel billet and rolled forging in September, up 417.9% from a year earlier. Imports in August 2019 stood at 260,000 mt.
China is the world largest producer and consumer of steel.
Lower steel prices in South-east Asia also fueled the surge in imports last month. Steel billet prices in China were about $50/mt higher than quotes in South-east Asia, and $70/mt higher than prices in western Asian countries, according to sources.
China announced plans at the end of 2018 to recategorise eight types of solid waste, including scrap steel, copper, and aluminium, into restricted imports that can be used as raw materials. The restrictions took effect from July 2019.
Customs data indicated that less than 10,000 mt of steel scrap entered China in September, with imports in the first nine months of the year at only 180,000 mt, down 83.7% from the same period in 2018.
Separately, imports of steel products in China increased from 970,000 mt in August and 840,000 mt in July, to 1.11 million mt in September, showed customs data. Imports in January-September amounted to 8.75 million mt.