China may be net steel exporter this year–analyst

Reuters via Yahoo! Asia News

China, the world’s top steel producer, may become a net exporter of steel products as early as this year because production is outpacing demand, the London-based Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau said on Thursday. China — which became the world’s top steel importer only in 2002 — emerged as the number-five exporter of steel in 2004.It still imported some products, but its net import position halved to about 15 million tonnes from 30 million tonnes in 2003.

Industry executives now fear that Chinese-made products will swamp the globe and plunge the long-suffering industry back into the global glut of four years ago.

‘There is a possibility of China changing from being a … net steel importer to a net steel exporter’ on a full-year basis, said Steve Mackrell, director of the bureau, which compiles and analyses global steel industry statistics.

‘I think it is going to happen sometime,’ he told a conference organised by the China Iron and Steel Association. ‘And it could be as early as this year.’

Mackrell said that on a monthly basis China had been a net exporter of steel between September and December, though exports and imports had balanced out in January.

‘Last April, imports began to fall very sharply,’ he said. ‘The government moved to cool the economy and dampen consumption. But despite this, Chinese production continued to grow. Chinese steel mills had to turn increasingly to exports.’

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