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Steel exports may fall 27% this year
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China is likely to sell 27 percent less steel abroad this year, largely due to the government's efforts to curb its exports, an industry group said on Thursday.

Luo Bingsheng, vice-chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association, forecast that the country's exports of crude steel would decline to 52.5 million tons this year from 73.07 million tons in 2006.

The 2008 figure would include 48 million tons of rolled steel and 1.5 million tons of billets, he said. "If exports rebound, more tightening measures will come."

China would import 16 million tons of rolled steel and 220,000 tons of billets this year, he said.

China, the world's largest steel maker and consumer, produced 489.2 million tons of crude steel last year, up 15.7 percent, which was 2.67 percentage points lower than the rise in 2006.

Net exports of crude steel rose 58 percent to 54.9 million tons last year. But exports to the United States declined 23.3 percent.

The steel industry accounts for 15 percent of China's total energy consumption and discharges 14 percent of the total pollutants, according to government data.

Last year China imposed export tariffs on more than 80 steel products, including steel wire, sheet and plate, and raised export tariffs on primary commodities such as steel billets, ingots and pig iron.

It also scrapped or lowered a range of export rebates to curtail mounting exports and curb excessive production.

In February, China exported no steel billets and 3.11 million tons of rolled steel, a record low since May 2006.

(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2008)

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