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By Jake Lloyd-Smith
(Bloomberg) — Steel exports from China have increased to extraordinary levels as demand in the world’s largest producer slows and the surge in shipments threatens to spark a rise in trade disputes, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.
Overseas sales from China rose to 52.4 million metric tons in the first half of the year, in line with Japan’s total crude-steel production of 52.6 million tons for the period, Tokyo- based analyst Shinya Yamada said in a report. As export growth continues, trade frictions could escalate, Yamada wrote.
Mills in China confronting slower domestic demand for the first time in a generation are boosting exports, increasing competition in markets across Asia, Europe and the U.S. Chinese steelmakers are the linchpin of the global industry, accounting for about half of worldwide production. Demand for steel per head in China may emulate the trend seen in postwar Japan, which peaked in 1973, then fell, according to Yamada.
“Chinese steel exports have attained near parity with Japan’s total output” in the first six months of 2015, Yamada said in the July 27 report. “Considering Japan’s crude-steel output is second only to China’s, this implies that Chinese exports have risen to extraordinary levels.”
There are increasing signs mills outside China may be pushing back. U.S. Steel Corp. and ArcelorMittal are among group of producers in the U.S. that filed a case against imports of cold-rolled steel, according to a person briefed on matter. The case, filed Monday with the U.S. International Trade Commission, includes steel from China as well as other countries.
ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd. said last week that it’s going to fight steel from China, which is being sent to ports at prices as much as 25 percent below local output costs, according to the country’s largest maker. The unit of ArcelorMittal wants the government to increase tariffs.
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