Japan's steel exports fell 5.5% year on year to 2.84 million mt in April, making the fifteenth consecutive month of year-on year-decline and hitting a nine-month low, Japan Iron & Steel Federation data released Thursday showed.
The total was also down 15.9% from March, the JISF data showed.
A JISF official said it was the first time monthly exports had fallen below 3 million mt since July 2017, and was considered a very low level.
He said he expected mills would cut exports further in the months ahead while they focused on meeting firm domestic demand.
"We expect Japan's exports will stay lower for a while because mills have less availability for export," he said.
Of the April total, HRC exports were down 21.3% on year and down 19.4% from March at 761,930 mt, CRC exports down 9.3% on year and down 18.2% on month at 179,130 mt, and galvanized sheet exports up 0.6% on year but down 10.7% from March at 227,763 mt.
Plate exports surged 66.9% on year but were down 19.4% from March at 209,499 mt in April. The JISF official attributed this to a plunge in plate exports last year due to an outage at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp's Oita plate mill after a fire in January.
Japan's steel exports in April to South Korea were down 22.2% on year and down 20.5% from March at 416,294 mt, to China down 4.2% on year and down 1.1% on month at 478,852 mt and to Thailand down 1.1% on year and down 25.1% from March at 390,501 mt.
In contrast, exports to the US rose 11.7% on year and rose 21.4% from March to 145,481 mt.
The JISF official noted that while the April exports to US were required to pay the additional duties recently imposed on steel exports to the US, the volume did not decrease.
"We will monitor the trend of exports to the US in the coming months," he added.
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