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China’s semi-finished steel products imports slow in Jan-Feb 2022

China imported 1,654,946 mt of semi-finished steel in the January-February period this year, including 729,059 mt of billet and 511,348 mt of slab, according to the data released by China’s General Administration of Customs on March 21.

But for billets this volume is 18 percent lower than the same period last year, while for slabs imports surged by 58 percent year on year.

China was the main buyer of import slabs in Asia in September and early October, when bookings for arrival in January and February were done, but later in November and December import trading slowed down again.

As for billet, following the sharp drops in rebar futures prices and new restrictions on re-rolling operations in October 2021, China’s import billet market collapsed and traders were selling their position cargoes purchased for China elsewhere outside the country for shipments up to January.

The import billet volumes arriving in China will remain reduced for March and April, given the big price gap between international offers and local billet prices in China, which has reached $150/mt and above in late March.

Instead of imports, China started billet and slabs exports in March, which will be reflected in the for April-June export shipments.

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