Indian steel importers went back to buying from traditional markets such as Korea, Japan and China while increasing shipments from Vietnam and Taiwan replaced Russia among the top five buyers.

Reduced steel prices at a global level, payment issues and lesser price benefits saw Indian buyers opt from traditional South East Asian markets.

Imports of finished steel rose 38 per cent YoY in April 2023 to 460,000 tonnes (0.46 mt), against 0.33 mt in April 2022. In value terms, imports rose 12 per cent, to $561.8 million in April 2023 versus $500.5 million in the year-ago-period.

Majority of India’s import shipments came in through the Mumbai Sea at 0.109 mt, up 12 per cent YoY.

According to a Steel Ministry report, volume wise, hot rolled coil (HRC) or strip of 0.140 mt was the item most imported item at 30 per cent share in total finished steel while India was a net importer of finished steel.

Major importing nations

Country-wise break-up shows, shipments coming in from Taiwan rose nearly 2400 per cent to 0.027 mt in volume and 752 per cent in value to $25 million while Vietnam saw shipments increase 863 per cent to 0.039 mt in volume and rise 222 per cent in value to $40 million.

On the other hand, shipments from Japan and China saw a 104 per cent and 79 per cent increase to 0.070 mt and 0.108 mt, respectively. In value terms, shipments were up 76 per cent to $98.6 million for those coming in from Japan; and up 34 per cent to $142 million in case of those coming in from China.

Korea saw the highest shipment come in at 0.15 mt, down 18 per cent YoY, as per a report of the Steel Ministry. Russian shipments, as per the report was just 7,800 tonnes (0.078 mt), even lower than shipments coming in from Thailand.

Price drops

“China has been dropping prices in the export markets which impacted prices across neighbouring markets in South East Asia. Russian prices were not competitive and there were some hesitancies on the payment front which impacted demand,” a trade source told businessline.

While there is a price cap on Russian oil, no such cap exists on steel coming in from Russia.

Incidentally as on June 1, Chinese origin steel (arriving on West Coast of India) was priced at $579 per tonne, one of the lowest, among importing nations. Prices are down 10 per cent over April 28.

On the other hand, shipments from Korea – the largest import market – was at $694 per tonne; down 2 per cent over April 28. And, higher by 20 per cent over Chinese prices.