Leading Asian steel producer and exporter, South Korea, has posted total galvanised steel exports at 3.02 mn t in the Jan-Jun’21 period – over 3% higher compared with the same period last year, as per customs data compiled by SteelMint. Galvanised steel exports were at 2.93 mn t in the first half of CY’20.
Exports to India rise 17%
Although exports to Mexico surged over 44% to 4.20 mn t in H1 CY’21, shipments to China slipped to 0.35 mn t in the period from 0.41 mn t last year. As per SteelMint data, South Korea’s flat steel exports – HRC and heavy plates – dropped by 15% in the period under review mainly on account of HRC exports to China dropping by over 52% on year.
Exports to Japan, however, rose by over 14% to 0.33 mn t as against 0.28 mn t last year.
Likewise, India’s imports from S. Korea were around 0.18 mn t in H1 CY’21, which were 17% higher compared with 0.15 mn t in the corresponding period last year. In contrast to H1 CY’20, exports to India picked up on account of higher demand for high-grade steel products from Indian manufacturers, as import demand had dried up during the pandemic and nationwide lockdown last year. The Indian government has recently refrained from imposing antidumping duty on flat steel imports from S. Korea among a host of other countries.
The other leading destination for South Korean exports, the US, recorded a rise in inbound shipments by 7% to 0.23 mn t in the first half of CY’21 as against 0.21 mn t in the year-ago period.
Automobile exports highest since H1 CY’12
The country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has recently announced that S. Korea’s automobile output and exports in the first six months of 2021 posted year-on-year increases of 11.5% and 27.9% respectively. In particular, auto exports recorded double-digit growth of 27.9% for the first time since the first half of 2012.
Global steel prices are at record-highs, and therefore exports are resulting in robust realisations for S. Korean producers. But high global prices have resulted in leading domestic steel producers to raise prices in tandem, although the second COVID-19 wave has adversely impacted domestic consumer sentiment, including auto purchases. The case for exports, therefore, is strong, although galvanised steel exports have slipped over 9% in Jun’21 as against May.
In contrast, domestic consumer demand has been impacted by the second wave of COVID-19 even as demand for flat-rolled products from the automobile and shipbuilding industries remains strong unlike in 2020 when domestic demand had touched rock bottom even as exports to China had picked up pace in H1.