Steel exports rebound on widening price gap

China exported 4.16 million tons of steel in March, an increase of 1.05 million tons from February, spurred by the widening price gap between the domestic and international markets.

International steel prices rose more sharply than domestic prices, with the price gap extending to $100 to $200 per ton, which propped up more exports, said industry expert Xu Xiangchun.

March exports were 22.6 percent less than a year earlier, the latest customs figures showed.

The accumulated export in the first quarter totaled 11.39 million tons, down 19.3 percent year on year, with the export value up 7.6 percent.

Net exports in March stood at 2.65 million tons, 790,000 tons more than a month ago, but 30.3 percent less than the corresponding period of last year.

Aggregated imports dropped 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 4.18 million tons.

Xu said the rising exports in March were in part due to the undelivered goods in February, and that the tax rebate abolition for the exported energy-consuming goods was beginning to bear fruit.

Despite the increase from February, exports declined from the same period last year. Xu said. He expected more tightening policies to come out if monthly exports exceeded 400 tons.

Luo Bingsheng, vice-chairman of China Iron and Steel Association, forecast the country’s exports of crude steel would decline to 52.5 million tons this year from 73.07 million tons in 2006, largely due to the government’s effort to curb the exports of the alloy of iron and carbon.

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