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Steelmakers Favor Semis Exports as Finished Steel Usage Grows

The steel industry is shifting toward supplying the local market with finished goods such as coils and selling semis with lower domestic demand overseas
HRC accounted for the lion’s share of finished steel usage in Iran during the five-month period.HRC accounted for the lion’s share of finished steel usage in Iran during the five-month period.
The high flat steel usage primarily points to the rise in auto production, alongside steel pipe and profile manufacture

Iran’s semi-finished steel exports during the first five months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Aug. 22) stood at 2.7 million tons, up 89% year-on-year, according to the Iranian Steel Producers Association’s latest report.

Slab shipments made up the bulk of exports reaching 1.44 million tons, up 246% YOY, followed by a 24% year-on-year growth in billet and bloom shipments to 1.25 million tons.

Finished steel exports were halved to 531,000 tons. Rebar and coated coils were the only products posting upticks of 126% with 264,000 tons and of 69% with 22,000 tons respectively. Hot- and cold-rolled coil and beams were down 80%, 94% and 13% YOY to 145,000, 6,000 and 73,000 tons respectively.

This is while imports were down across the entire spectrum of steel products, save for a few. Semi and finished steel imports were down 92% and 29% YOY to stand at 6,000 and 863,000 tons respectively. Beam and coated coil were the only products whose imports recorded growth.

Semi exports have been on a continuous path of growth in the current fiscal year, while finished steel shipments have increasingly dwindled. This trend can be traced to the industry’s shifting priorities toward supplying the local market with finished goods such as coils and selling semis with less demand at home overseas.

Iran’s steel usage data clearly reflect the growing export sentiment for semis, as semi-finished steel usage was down 4% YOY to 5.89 million tons during the period while finished steel consumption grew by 14% YOY to 8.35 million tons. Apparent finished steel usage has been on the rise month-on-month so far this year.

Data indicate that HRC was the most used material with 3.3 million tons, up 15% YOY; followed by rebar with 2.32 million tons, down 7% YOY; CRC with 1.25 million tons, up 44% YOY; coated coil with 769,000 tons, up 43% YOY; and beams with 321,000 tons, down 4% YOY.

The higher flat steel usage primarily points to the rise in auto production, alongside steel pipe and profile manufacture. Yet demand for beam and rebar is still falling, as the construction sector has yet to show any signs of life.

Iranian steelmakers produced 8.58 million tons of semis and 8.02 million tons of finished steel during the five-month period, up 15% and 12% YOY respectively compared with last year’s corresponding period.

As for finished steel, HRC had the lion’s share of output with 3.08 million tons, registering a 5% growth YOY. It was followed by rebar with 2.55 million tons, down 1% YOY; CRC with 1 million tons, up 40% YOY; coated coil with 653,000 tons, up 57% YOY; beam with 378,000 tons, down 7% YOY; and “other steel products” with 350,000 tons, up 148% YOY.

For semis, billet and bloom output was up 14% to 4.55 million tons and slab production increased by 15% to reach 4.03 million tons.

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