European markets, primarily larger ones like Italy, Spain and Belgium, have, post-Covid, emerged as largest buyers of steel from India overtaking traditional markets like Vietnam - which are now amongst the largest seller of steel here, data from the Steel Ministry show.

Export to these three European markets are at a five-year-high to 1.03 million tonnes (mt) for April–July period of FY24, rising by over 350 per cent since the comparative period of FY20 when exports were just 0.23 mt.

On a y-o-y basis, exports to the three key European nations rose 14 per cent, from 0.9 mt.

Ministry data show, exports to Italy (Indian steel mills’ largest export market) was 0.6 mt – up 26 per cent y-o-y; to Spain (the second largest market) was 0.24 mt – up 87 per cent; and to Belgium was 0.2 mt – dropped 32 per cent - for the April – July period of FY24.

Hot rolled coil or strips (1.0 mt) “was the item most exported (accounting for) 39 per cent share in total finished steel,” the report accessed by businessline said.

Other large export markets were UAE and Nepal. While exports to UAE dropped 23 per cent YoY to 0.19, shipments to Nepal increased 30 per cent to 0.22 mt for the period under review.

“Import of total finished steel was valued at Rs 19,200 crore ($ 2,336 million) whereas export of total finished steel was valued at Rs 21,547 crore ($ 2,621 million). Overall trade surplus (total finished steel) stood at Rs 2,347 crore during April-July 2023 (prov),” the Steel Ministry report mentioned.

Imports shoot-up

Data shows Vietnam, one of the largest buyers of Indian steel, has now turned one of the key sellers. Imports from Vietnam – one of the top five seller – saw an 860 per cent rise YoY to 0.17 mt. In the year ago period, shipments coming in was 17,000 tonnes only.

Other large sellers were Korea at 0.69 mt, down 4 per cent; China at 0.6 mt, up 62 per cent and Japan at 0.26 mt, up 47 per cent, respectively.

For India, China emerged the second highest seller of steel to India, with finished steel imports touching a five-year-high in the first four months of the fiscal year.

Steel shipments coming in rose 23 per cent YoY to 2 mt, the highest since 2020; primarily on account of cheaper imports coming in from China. Shipments from China were priced lower by $40 – $60 per tonne.