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The fall in the exchange rate to around Yen 157 to the US dollar has increased the export competitiveness of Japan’s recycled steel but inquiries from importing countries are currently weak owing to falling prices for steel products from China. Thus, the effect of the weaker yen has not been fully realized. At the same time, in the three major regions of the domestic market, the weaker Japanese currency has had the effect of keeping prices above Yen 50,000 per tonne.

On April 10, the Kanto export tender for 15,000 tonnes of recycled steel was won with a bid of Yen 51,087 per tonne, equivalent to an increase of Yen 987 over the previous month. Despite this increase, the sum was below the domestic market price and therefore the impact locally is expected to be minimal.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Finance and Trade Statistics, the amount of recycled steel exported from Japan in March this year was 515,971 tonnes, representing drops of 17.4% from the previous month and of 10.4% from the same month last year - the first decreases seen in these comparisons for two months. Owing to the indirect effects of the high domestic market prices in Japan and the slump in Chinese steel, inquiries for Japanese recycled steel were weak and new contracts were difficult to conclude.

According to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation’s latest report, domestic crude steel production amounted to 7.197 million tonnes in March for an increase of 2.9% over the previous month and a decrease of 3.9% over the same month in 2023, the first year-on-year decline in four months. This outcome appears to have been affected by a stagnation in car demand.