Lunar New Year holidays impacted Taiwanese mills’ ferrous scrap imports significantly in February, resulting in a decrease of 45% from January levels. Once back to their normalised production schedules by the third week of February, the mills’ steel scrap demand had pushed up scrap prices by almost 16% when compared to the first five weeks of the year when prices had been at their lowest.
However, the strength in this supply-driven market was short-lived as Japanese and US suppliers rushed to fill the demand. By the third week of March, steel and scrap prices had softened once again with the increase in scrap purchases, which were up about 50% from February import numbers. First quarter 2019 steel scrap imports fell around 5.5% when compared to the same period last year.
Taiwan had imported a substantial volume of steel billets by the end of this year’s first quarter; for March, there was an import increase of approximately 50% over January. The possible continuance of higher steel billet imports, coupled with lower production rates owing to seasonal electricity restrictions, may keep steel and scrap prices under pressure going into the summer months.
Sims Metal Management Global Trade Corporation (USA), Board Member of the BIR Ferrous Division