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Press Release January 2019

China Stainless Trade in 2018
Stainless trade data for China was not easy to obtain in 2018 but WBMS now has it for the period January to November 2018. Charts show data in kt (thousand metric tons).

Chart 1 China stainless steel exports by country

Stainless exports from China January to November 2018 were 3.5 Mt, unchanged from the same period in 2017. Chart 1 shows the top ten export destinations, which in 2018 accounted for 75% of total exports. The top 4 destinations accounted for 50% of all China’s exports: South Korea 17%, Taiwan 15%, Vietnam 12% and India 6%. In the top ten, Italy and Russia are the only non-Asia destinations. The main change was the 180kt fall in exports to Taiwan, the other changes were relatively minor. Bear in mind some of the material will be for rerolling.

Chart 2 China stainless steel imports by country

In contrast to the unchanged volume of exports, China’s imports increased from 0.9 Mt in the 2017 period to 1.7 Mt in 2018, an increase of 800 kt or nearly 90%. All of this was accounted for by Indonesia from where imports increased from 300 kt to 1.1 Mt. Indonesia’s share of China’s imports went from 30% in the 2017 period to 62% in 2018. Other sources of imports were South Korea 13% and Japan 10%, so these 3 countries accounted for 85%
of China’s imports. This of course reflects the high ramp up of production from the stainless steel melting and rolling facilities in Indonesia.
Chart 3 China stainless steel exports by product form

Although China’s exports remained 3.5 Mt over the two periods there was a change in the mix of product forms. Exports of hot rolled coils decreased from 1.6 Mt to less than 1.4Mt, from 46% of total exports to 38%. This almost certainly reflected the increase in hot band production and exports from Indonesia. The other main export was cold rolled flat products which increased from 35% to 38% of total exports. HR flat products and tube and pipe exports also increased.

Chart 4 China stainless steel imports by product form
Chart 4 is an interesting one in that we can see what is coming in from Indonesia, which is stainless slab imports, which increased from 220 kt to 500kt and hot rolled coils which increased from 300 kt to nearly 800 kt, a combined increase of nearly 800 kt. So slabs accounted for 30% of China’s stainless imports in 2018 and hot rolled coils 45%. The imports of the other product forms did not change much in volume terms. CR flat accounted for 240kt or 14% of total imports.