Japan's January-March exports of iron and steel products fell 2.6% year on year to 8.11 million mt, latest figures from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation showed April 28.
The fall was a result of lower exports to main destinations such as China, Taiwan and Thailand.
Exports to China fell 7.7% from the year before to 1.14 million mt, while exports to Taiwan sank 22.1% to 444,083 mt. Likewise, exports to Thailand fell18.7% to 1.20 million mt.
Exports to China were lower on the back of a slowdown in the Chinese manufacturing activity in March as shown by the Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index. The index contracted to a 25-month low of 48.1 in March from February's expansion of 50.4.
Manufacturing in Taiwan slowed to 54.1 in March from 54.3 in February, its weakest reading in 19 months, while manufacturing in Thailand slowed to a PMI of 51.8 in March from 52.5 the month before.
However, exports to South Korea spiked 39.2% to 1.42 million mt, with shipments to the US rising 9.7% to 287,788 mt.
In spite of the overall fall, exports of hot-rolled wide strips inched 0.8% higher to 2.69 million mt, forming the bulk of the January-March exports. However, cold-rolled wide strips fell 9.2% to 469,466 mt, with galvanized sheets dropping 19.6% to 509,622 mt.
The January-March total was summed up after March exports dipped 0.3% year on year to 3.14 million mt, also led by lower volumes to China, Taiwan and Thailand.
Similar to the Q1 export figures, the March exports also posted falls in cold-rolled wide strips and galvanized sheets, down 7.8% and 15.4%, respectively, to 181,663 mt and 192,473 mt. However, hot-rolled wide strips rose 11.4% to 1.08 million mt against March 2021.
The fall in exports is expected to continue into Q2, as Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry projected that exports would reach 6.9 million mt, down 0.4% from the year before.
The ministry cautioned that demand, especially from vehicle manufacturers, could decrease further owing to a shortage of semiconductors and the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war.