China iron ore imports dip in April on shipping disruptions

Iron ore shipyard. Image from archives.

China’s iron ore imports fell 3.5% in April from a month earlier, official customs data showed on Friday, as shipments to the world’s top iron ore consumer from major suppliers were disrupted by inclement weather.

Arrival volumes of the steelmaking ingredient stood at 98.57 million tonnes last month, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

That compared with imports of 102.11 million tonnes in March and 95.71 million tonnes in April 2020.

“Shipments from Australia declined recently due to a cyclone in early April,” Tang Binghua, analyst with Founder CIFCO Futures said, speaking before the data was released.

Demand for iron ore remained robust, however, as mills that were not subject to output curbs imposed by authorities to reduce carbon emissions ramped up production. Pig iron output in the first 20 days of April inched higher from same period in March, according to the China Iron and Steel Association.

In the first four months of 2021, China brought in 381.98 million tonnes of iron ore, rising 6.7% over the same period a year earlier, customs data showed.

The data also showed exports of steel products surged 26% to 7.97 million tonnes last month from a year ago, while China’s steel imports were up 16% to 1.17 million tonnes.

Beijing said in late April it would cancel tax rebates for most steel exports and exempt temporary import tariffs for some primary steel products such as pig iron, crude steel and steel scrap to ensure domestic supplies of ferrous metals.

Over the January-April period, the country shipped out 25.65 million tonnes of steel and bought 4.89 million tonnes from other countries, the customs data showed.

(By Muyu Xu, Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Kenneth Maxwell)


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