Japan Sheet Steel Import Increases by 22% in 2005

Japanese import of hot rolled, cold rolled and coated steel sheet increased by 22.4% to 575,234 tonnes in 2005 from 2004. The import increased when users sought offshore source after the shortage mainly for manufacturers including automobile in late 2004. However, the monthly import kept decreased to 215,000 tonnes, which was the level before October 2004, in December after the peak of 320,000 tonnes in April. Japanese users reduced the spot import from China and other source due to the quality problem. A source of Japanese integrated steel maker expects the import wouldn’t increase at large volume for a while. The import increased by 6.5% to 1.636 million tonnes for hot rolled sheet, by 41.2% to 1.157 million tonnes for cold sheet and by 64.2% to 354,249 tonnes for galvanizing sheet in 2005 from 2004. The import of the 3 sheet steel items decreased by 13.8% to 215,647 tonnes in December from November. The import decreased by 20% to 116,150 tonnes for hot rolled sheet and by 27.3% to 25,781 tonnes for galvanizing sheet while the cold sheet import increased by 6.4% to 73,716 tonnes. Japanese increased import from China for some items when Chinese steel output increases more than the increase of the demand. However, Japanese market now recognizes the sheet steel made in China has limited applications due to the quality problem. Japanese import of Chinese 3 sheet items was 13,306 tonnes in December compared with 60,228 tonnes in April. Japanese interests concern galvanizing import could increase from South Korean re-rollers and other sources under the oversupply of China. However, a source of Japanese integrated steel said the import from South Korea won’t surge when South Korean export offer to Japan increases due to higher international price of zinc and higher exchange rage of won. The source said also Chinese steel market price already hit bottom.