India continued to be a net importer of steel in August, with 530,000 tonnes of shipments coming in during the month, against 480,000 tonnes of exports, provisional data from the Steel Ministry, accessed by businessline, show. 

Imports exceeded exports for the second straight month in August. 

Imports, which were up 20  per cent for August (YoY), outstripped exports by 50,000 tonnes, which rose by just 6 per cent. 

Sequentially, both imports and exports declined in August -- by 10 per cent and 7 per cent respectively -- indicating improved domestic consumption patterns. 

Trade sources say higher booking from China in earlier months - which came in at a $60-$70 per tonne discount over prevailing domestic prices - and a fall in export offers (since global prices of the benchmark hot-rolled coils were depressed following increased stock position in China) led to skewed trade.

Apart from Italy and Spain in Europe, key buyer markets for Indian steel -- UAE and Vietnam, among others -- remained depressed. Indian mills withdrew export offers following a lack of price commitments.

Also read: Indian steel mills see price cuts on weaker domestic demand

Market-wise update

According to SteelMint, export offers to the West Asian market remained range-bound w-o-w at $580-$585 per tonne CFR UAE. 

“Trading activity was limited, which kept prices range-bound, despite a 30 per cent production cut in Tangshan city. Further, Indian mills did not actively offer in the market, with last indications at around $615-$620 per tonne CFR UAE, “ the report said. 

Imported offers for China-origin hot-rolled coils into Vietnam remained absent. Last offers were heard at around $575 per tonne, CFR Vietnam. 

Indian export offers to Europe remained stable w-o-w at $690-695 per tonne, CFR Antwerp, SteelMint said. 

“Indian mills havelimited allocations. They have diverted allocations in the domestic market for better realisations,” a Steel Ministry official said.

April-August outlook

Steel Ministry data (provisional) show that for April-August (first five months of the fiscal), exports remained near flat on a year-on-year comparison - at 3 million tonnes (mt).

Against this, imports rose by 22 per cent YoY to 2.5 mt.

“For the five-month period, India remained a net exporter of steel by 0.5 mt,“ the official said.

Data shows non-alloyed steel exports increased by 25 per cent YoY to 2.7 mt, whereas alloyed steel shipments declined 60 per cent to 0.3 mt. Imports for the period jumped 55 per cent in the case of non-alloyed steel to 1.7 mt, while alloyed steel shipments coming in dropped 15 per cent to 0.8 mt.