Indian steel mills tapped into new overseas markets like Spain in Europe, while shipments to the Middle East more than doubled in April as finished steel exports increased by nearly 13 per cent on a year-on-year basis to 0.9 million tonnes last month. Exports in the year ago period was 0.76 mt.

Finished steel includes non-alloyed offerings, alloyed ones, and stainless steel.

In value terms, steel exports were to the tune of $901.3 million, up 1.3 per cent yoy. Exports last year in April were at $890 million (approximately).

For Indian steel mills, Spain emerged as the second-highest export market with a 155 per cent jump in shipments to 0.11 mt, as against 0.043 mt in April 2022. In value terms, exports increased by over 100 per cent to $110 million. This is the first time the European nation has made it among the top five in over 12 months, a report of the Union Steel Ministry, accessed by businessline, shows.

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Italy remained one of the top buyers of Indian steel at 0.21 mt, up 59 per cent YoY or $183.2 million worth of exports. Shipments there were 0.13 mt in the year-ago period and were valued at $163.5 million.

Meanwhile, the UAE saw shipments jump 298 per cent in volume and 144 per cent in value during April, to 0.06 mt and $51.3 million, respectively. “UAE has been buying steel to process and sell to Turkey, and some of the increase is also due to a low base effect,” a trade source explained.

Vietnam, one of the key buyers of Indian steel, saw a 9 per cent yoy drop in orders to 0.061 mt, while Belgium saw 0.044 mt of orders being placed as it dropped from the list of the top 5 export markets for Indian steel mills.

Category Break-up

“Volume-wise, HR Coil/Strip (0.331 mt) was the item most exported (accounting for 39 per cent share in total finished steel),” the Ministry report noted.

Flat product exports, like steel plates, hot-rolled coils and sheets, cold-rolled coils and sheets, electrical sheets, and tin plates, accounted for a 92 per cent share (up by 23 per cent). The other 8 per cent came from non-flats, like bars, rods, and railway structures. Exports in the segment were down 43.8 per cent.

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Semi-finished steel shipments (which are not part of finished steel offerings) dropped 66 per cent, YoY, the report mentioned.

Global outlook

The Ministry report added that in April, global steel prices “continued to remain volatile” and are expected to “remain on the edge” in view of geo-political tensions and recessionary traits, including elevated inflation levels in certain key markets.

Weak consumption and an uncertain outlook among market participants led to a decline in rebar and wire rod prices in Europe, but prices remained steady in the US. 

On the other hand, China’s steel prices suffered since downstream demand “was not strong enough”. In Russia, domestic flat steel prices remained mostly stable despite a recovery in export activity.