During the first three quarters of 2012, Brazil was the main Latin American destination for Chinese finished steel exports. Meanwhile, Mexico continued to be the country that showed the greatest growth of Chines imported steel, compared to the first 9-months 2011.
Because of the deceleration of the Brazilian economy during 2012, apparent steel consumption reached 19.2Mt and grew just 1% during the Jan/Sept 2012 period compared to the same period 2011. During the first three quarters of 2012, imports of finished steel products from all over the world grew 3.4% while Brazilian steel exports fell 17%, compared to same 9 months of 2011. The appreciation of the Brazilian currency is one of the causes.
In Jan/Sept 2012, Brazilian imports of Chinese finished products also fell by 25%, versus a year ago. This decrease is mainly due to the reduced arrival of flat product (-34%). On the other hand, Chinese long products imports experienced significant growth (+65%).
Brazil imported 649.762kt from China between January to September 2012, about 22% of total steel imports for Brazil.
Within long products, rails and railway accessories represented 59% of the group and grew 289%, compared to the first three quarters of 2011. This fact can probably be explained by the increased demand derived from infrastructure projects. Regarding coated steel for packaging, while tinplate imports decreased, tin free steel (that replaces regular tinplate in some packaging parts) imports grew considerably.
When volume is considered, despite a noticeable decrease of 32%, cold rolled coil continues to be the most imported steel product in Brazil (213.991kt). Imports of these products, along with silicon sheets and coils – the latter growing 37% versus year ago − are replacing domestic production.
Mexican authorities and CANACERO repeatedly expressed their concern about the increasing arrival of steel products from China and other countries that do not maintain free trade agreements with the country. Finished steel imports from the Asian country grew 121% as compared to Jan/Sept 2011, while imports of these products from the rest of the world just increased 60%.
When Chinese exports during Jan/Sept 2012 are compared to the same period of 2011, it can be seen that many steel products increased by more than 100%. Flat products imports grew 183% and imports of cold rolled coils increased 525%. Sheet and coils of other alloyed steels imports also grew markedly during the period (+240%). Wire experienced a dramatic growth of 2432%, going from 843t during the first three quarters of 2012 to 21.342kt during the same period of 2012.