[Ferro-Alloys.com] Japan's iron ore imports fell further in June, as domestic steel mills maintained output cuts under pressure from lower manufacturing sector demand because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Japan imported 6.1mn t of iron ore in June, down by 32pc from a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the finance ministry released today. The value of imports plummeted by 29pc to ¥60bn ($561mn).
Last month's imports were also down by 10pc from 6.8mn t in May. This took the January-June total to 50mn t, a drop of 15pc on the year. The total value of January-June iron ore imports was ¥514bn, down by 4pc from a year earlier.
Japan's steel output is showing little sign of any recovery, despite expectations of a gradual rebound in demand for steel products from the manufacturing industry. The country's trade ministry (Meti) has projected that crude steel output will weaken by 3pc to 17.7mn t in July-September compared with April-June.
Japan's biggest steel mill Nippon Steel has brought forward planned closures of blast furnaces, adding to output cuts.
Exports of steel products fell by 16pc from a year earlier to 2.4mn t in June, but increased by 5pc to 17mn t in the first six months of this year, according to the government data. Imports of steel products dropped by 18pc on the year to around 520,000t in June, bringing the January-June total to 3.5mn t, down by 19pc.
Japan posted a trade deficit for a third straight month in June, although the deficit narrowed to ¥269bn compared with ¥833bn in May because of a recovery in exports to China. Total exports were down by 26pc from a year earlier to ¥4.9 trillion, hit by weak car and machinery export sales. Imports fell by 14pc to ¥5.1 trillion.
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