China exported a remarkable 10.94 million tonnes of finished steel in June, according to the latest official data. Exports have defied expectations of a slowdown this year, brushing off the impact of spreading trade barriers.
The 16% month-on-month jump in exports brought total exports over the first half of the year to 57.12mt, up 9% from a year earlier. June exports therefore come in at an annualised 133mt, while H1 exports come in at almost 115mt.
At the start of the year, some analysts suggested that Chinese exports would be slowed down by growing trade barriers. This ignored the fact that the most aggressive barriers are being imposed by markets such as the European Union and the USA which do not take large quantities of Chinese steel. The spike in prices in the second quarter proved a more effective barrier on exports, although the pullback in volumes had already begun to reverse in May.
China’s steel imports were also better last month, largely driven by the healthy automotive sector. June imports hit 1.14mt, up 4.59% month-on-month but still down -2.56% y-o-y. Over January-June, imports were down -2.8% to 6.46mt.