China’s property market bust has saddled its steelmakers with a glut that they are offloading globally, including India. In FY24, China — banking on the lower priced metal offerings — emerged as the largest seller to Indian traders. Nearly 2.7 million tonnes (mt) of the finsished produce came in, the highest in eight years.

One of every three import offering into the country last fiscal was Chinese.

Steel coming into India from China saw a whopping 91 per cent rise in volumes, y-o-y, per a report of the Steel Ministry; with the country displacing two other Asian majors – Korea, whose shipments grew 16 per cent y-o-y to 2.6 mt; and Japan which saw a 51 per cent rise y-o-y to 1.3 mt.

Imports from China are crawling back to FY17 levels (2.2 mt) after declining to 0.8 mt in FY22.

The sharp rise in Chinese steel exports echoes a similar situation in FY15 and FY16, when imports stood at 3.6 mt and 4.2 mt, respectively, Ministry data shows. The surge then was also powered by a collapse in steel demand driven by the Chinese real-estate market; and lower capacities across struggling steel mills of India which at that point were trying to reduce leverage on their balance sheets.

“Indian steel demand has been good and grew at close to 13-14 per cent last fiscal. But, the worrying factor continued to be Chinese imports. Approximately, 10 mt is being exported out of there over the last few months. And these are not high-grade or speciality steel. These are trade-level offerings that are competing with Indian domestic players purely on price,” an industry executive explained.

Exports of Chinese steel rose 33 per cent in the past year. In the 12 months through February, China exported 95 mt of steel, according to Customs data.

Steel Imports Rise

In FY24, Indian steel imports surged 38 per cent y-o-y to 8.4 mt, with the country turning net importer. Exports were at 7.5 mt, the latest report from the Ministry, accessed by businessline, show.

Imports of finished steel was valued at ₹68,193 crore, while trade deficit was ₹9,036 crore. (0.9 mt).

Category-wise rise

Volume wise, hot rolled coil / strips at 3.7 mt was the most imported item, accounting for 44 per cent of the total finished steel shipments coming in.

Korea shipped the highest amount of HR coils and strips at 0.7 mt, just 10 per cent higher than China’s 0.64 mt of imports. Against this, Chinese import of stainless steel was the highest at nearly 1 mt , at least 50 per cent higher than Korea. Pipes and plates were the two other large imports categories from China.