weakening yen is having a dramatic impact on Japanese steel
trade, according to the latest industry figures.
Steel exports in the
first five months of this year have risen almost 10 percent
compared with the same period last year, while imports have
fallen 9.3 percent to 2.96 million tonnes in the same
comparison, according to the Japan Iron and Steel
On an annualized
basis, that would put 2013 imports at a little over 7 million
tonnes, its lowest level in at least four years.
Behind the sharp fall
in imports has been the demise of the Japanese currency, which
lost almost 18 percent of its value against the dollar from
January to May.
steel imports dropped 13.3 percent to 1.6 million tonnes in the
first five months of this year, with particularly sharp falls
seen in inbound shipments of heavy plate as well as coated and
galvanized sheet. While specialty steel imports were up 21.5
percent and those of secondary products rose 6 percent, their
combined volumes amounted to just 12 percent of overall iron
and steel imports.
Shipments from the
regions two biggest suppliers to Japan fell sharply, with
imports from South Korea down 11.6 percent to 1.42 million
tonnes in the January-May period and shipments from China 15.5
percent lower at 494,953 tonnes.
There is very little to suggest that the trend of falling
imports is likely to reverse course as long as the yen keeps
weakening, industry observers said.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister
publication Steel First.