Japan’s steel imports fell 2.1% year on year to 688,104 mt in July, and were up 4.7% from June, latest preliminary data from the Ministry of Finance showed.
Ministry officials in charge of the data were unavailable for comment Tuesday, but a Tokyo-based trader said it was the second consecutive month of year-on-year decline.
“Plate imports have been slower because demand for ship plate in Korea, a key exporter to Japan, has been higher,” he said. South Korea’s domestic demand was reducing the volume of supply available for export, he added.
Japan’s imports of steel from South Korea in July were down 11.9% year on year at 300,781 mt, but up 2% from June, while those from China were down 25.3% on year and down 10.9% on month at 111,351 mt. Imports from ASEAN countries rose 29.1% year on year and were up 45.3% from June at 31,378 mt.
Another trader in Tokyo also attributed the decline in imports from China to firm Chinese domestic demand. “Imports from ASEAN increased largely from last year but the increase from last month was lower, so the big increase might be just because of arrival timing differences,” he said.
“But overall imports from ASEAN have been higher in recent months; we believe those are spot contracts and not sure if arrivals will continue increasing, we will have to monitor the movement,” he added.
Meanwhile, Japan’s average import price of steel in July was Yen 129,374/mt ($1,176/mt), down Yen 2,942/mt from June, the data showed.
The Japan Iron & Steel Federation is due to release its monthly trade data by product on August 31.