Japan steelmakers focus on high-end products

Sep 11, 2012 | 02:59 PM | Catherine Ngai

Tags  Nippon, Takeo Aoyama, JFE, steel, Kaoru Okamoto, catherine ngai

NEW YORK — Japanese steelmakers hope to protect their domestic industry by championing high-value, high-quality products in the face of tough competition from their Chinese counterparts, according to top-level executives.

"Considering the size of the demand in mainland China, the size of production capacity in mainland China and the closeness of Japan to China, of course we feel very, very threatened by the growth of the Chinese steel industry," Takeo Aoyama, executive vice president of Nippon Steel USA Inc. and general manager of its Chicago office, said during a roundtable discussion hosted by AMM. "But we cannot cry for that. We have to compete."

Members of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation expressed concerns over China’s major advances in steelmaking, as well as the country’s 626.7 million tonnes of crude steel production in 2010—almost six times more than Japan’s production and nearly eight times more than U.S. output, according to World Steel Association data. As demand in China slows and oversupply concerns increase, some market participants have been alarmed at growing Chinese steel exports, which jumped in May to the highest level in 23 months (amm.com, June 25). ....

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