In April 2015 China exported almost 8.6Mt of steel and with export prices continuing to decline, a further increase in tonnage is expected.

The April figure was 11% up on March 2015 and 13.3% higher than in April 2014, according to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics.

China imported 1.202Mt of steel in April, a drop of 0.94% when compared with March figures and 6.6% down on April 2014. From January to April this year, China imported 4.454Mt, down 7.9% year-on-year.

The average export price of Chinese steel in April was US$616/tonne, down US$2 when compared with March 2015 and hitting an eight-year low. The import price in April stood at US$1,144/tonne, down US$37 from March and reaching its lowest point since November 2009.

The average steel import price for China was US$528/tonne higher than its export price – a narrower margin than in previous months, it is claimed, but still relatively high.

According to a report from China Metals, foreign trade of steel, steel billet and ingot can be converted into a net crude steel export of 7.81Mt in April this year, up 18.8% when compared to April 2014. The net export of crude steel between January and April 2015 is estimated to be 31.74Mt – up 55.8% when compared to the same period last year.

Following China’s abolition of tax rebates for four categories of boron steel products at the beginning of the year, exports of this type of steel has witnessed month-by-month declines. In April China exported 374kt of these four categories of boron steel, down almost 40% on the March figure and accounting for just 4.4% of China’s total steel exports in the month.

Between January and April 2015 China’s exports of the aforementioned four boron steels totalled 5.096Mt accounting for 14.8% of overall steel exports during the first four months of the year.

Exports of bar, rod, medium plate and hot-rolled strip, however, rose 10.2% month-on-month to 3.4Mt in April.

While there might not be boron in Chinese steel exports, there is certainly more chromium as exports of steels containing other metals (but not boron) grew 22% from March to 2.884Mt.

According to China Metals, “it is expected that China’s steel export price would sink further in the near future.” As of 1 June 2015, the export price (FOB) of Chinese chromium-rebar was quoted at US$340/tonne while hot-rolled coil has been quoted at US$355/tonne – a new low for 2015.

Chinese steel exports and their corresponding trade frictions will continue to grow over the coming months.