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The domestic recycled steel market climbed for four consecutive months until early March. But owing to the slump in the real estate market in South Korea and Vietnam, along with movements in the yen and a decline in Asia’s steel demand, the market turned downwards in mid-March.

The Kanto tender on April 11 was won with a bid for 15,000 tonnes at a price of Yen 50,556 per tonne (US$ 374.49), which was Yen 4882 (US$ 36.16) lower than the March bid and the first price drop since December last year.

According to Ministry of Finance trade statistics, Japan’s recycled steel exports amounted to 575,780 tonnes in March - an increase of 8.8% from the previous month but a drop of 6.4% from the same month last year. Export volumes have remained below 600,000 tonnes since the 657,211 tonnes recorded last October.

According to World Steel Association figures for March, crude steel production across the 63 reporting countries totalled 165.097 million tonnes - up 15.7% from the previous month and 1.7% from March last year. China’s export increase of 19.6% month on month and 6.9% year on year to 95.73 million tonnes was a key factor.

According to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation’s Steel Production Bulletin, the country’s crude steel production in the 12 months from April 2022 to March 2023 showed a decrease for the first time in two years; the decline of 8.1% from the previous fiscal year to 87.848 million tonnes was a reflection of the worldwide economic slowdown. Production was below 90 million tonnes for the first time in two years - since the first wave of COVID in 2020 cut the total to just 82.785 million tonnes.

With 15 consecutive months of year-on-year decreases in crude steel production, the total for this March of 7.486 million tonnes represented an increase of 8.2% over the previous month but a decrease of 5.9% from the same month last year.