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Asian shift hits US scrap exports in quarter

Keywords: Tags  ferrous scrap exports, steel scrap, Commerce Department, Sean Davidson

NEW YORK — U.S. ferrous scrap exports slipped slightly in the first quarter compared with a year earlier as demand from Asian consumers remained underwhelming.

First-quarter exports totaled 5.38 million tonnes, down 0.8 percent from nearly 5.43 million tonnes in the same period last year.

Exporters shipped 1.96 million tonnes in March, down 8.6 percent from nearly 2.15 million tonnes in the same month last year due to significant declines in offshore sales to China (down 41.1 percent from March 2012 to 178,720 tonnes), South Korea (down 35.6 percent to 226,838 tonnes), Taiwan (down 21.4 percent to 271,980 tonnes) and India (down 62.3 percent to 52,877 tonnes), according to the latest U.S. Commerce Department data.

However, the March total was up 4 percent from the previous month, when less than 1.89 million tonnes of ferrous scrap were shipped offshore.

South Korea was largely responsible for the first-quarter decline, taking 635,102 tonnes, a 29.9-percent drop from 905,424 tonnes in the first three months of last year. Market participants attributed the drop in U.S. shipments to Korea’s ability to secure better-priced scrap from other countries, such as Japan.

China’s first-quarter intake of U.S. ferrous scrap dropped 18 percent to 546,549 tonnes from 666,245 tonnes a year earlier; exports to India slid 31.4 percent to 192,864 tonnes from 280,939 tonnes; and shipments to Taiwan slipped 3.2 percent to 803,623 tonnes from 830,087 tonnes.

Exports to Canada, Malaysia and Thailand also fell during the quarter, while Egypt, Mexico and Turkey were the only major buyers of U.S. scrap to post increases.

Turkey, the largest offshore consumer of U.S. ferrous scrap, took in more than 1.64 million tonnes from the United States during the first three months of the year, up 7.2 percent from 1.53 million tonnes a year earlier. Shipments to Egypt jumped 51.8 percent to 324,399 tonnes from 213,765 tonnes in the same comparison, while exports to Mexico increased 26.8 percent to 163,948 tonnes from 129,315 tonnes.

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