TOKYO Japanese steel output is forecast to reach 27.58 million tonnes in the current fiscal quarter, its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2010, amid continued growth in reconstruction and export demand, Japans Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) said.
This is considerably higher than the initial estimate put out by the ministry at the beginning of April, when it forecast production for the fiscal first quarter at 26.37 million tonnes, and marks the first time output will have surpassed the 27-million-tonne mark since the second quarter of 2012.
"Not only is there continued steel demand for reconstruction, but the latest housing data is also showing an improvement. Exports are also expected to continue to grow due to the weaker yen," a senior official at the ministrys iron and steel division told AMM sister publication Steel First.
However, he warned that Japanese mills need to be careful about exports due to a weakening supply-demand picture in the region as China ramps up its production. Chinese mills increased output 0.6 percent in late April to a record 2.1287 million tonnes per day.
Mills also need to take care not to arouse trade friction with other regional producers due to the weakening yen, the official added.
Last month, Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based China Steel Corp. said it was exploring the possibility of calling for an anti-dumping investigation into the surge of Japanese plate imports as a direct result of the weak yen.
Including exports, quarterly carbon steel demand is slated to rise to 18.96 million tonnes, up 3.6 percent year on year and 2.1 percent quarter on quarter.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.