Out of the haze of “surplus”, China may become a net importer of stainless steel in the future

Since 2010, China has been a net exporter of stainless steel for 10 consecutive years. However, concerns about overcapacity and trade "anti-dumping" measures of various countries have cast a haze on the development of China's stainless steel industry. This situation is expected to change. Industry experts believe that China may become a net importer of stainless steel in the future due to the cancellation of the export tax rebate policy and the promotion of new application areas to stimulate domestic demand.

2021 (the first) China Construction Stainless Steel Innovation Forum will be held in Fuzhou on July 8. A number of participating experts discussed the innovative development and application potential of stainless steel in various fields such as building envelope systems, steel structures, water supply and drainage, and bridges.

Li Xinchuang, Secretary of the Party Committee and Chief Engineer of the Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute, said at the meeting that with the rapid growth of China's stainless steel imports, China may become a net importer of stainless steel in the future.

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The data since last year reflects this trend. In 2020, China imported 1.8505 million tons of stainless steel, an increase of 61.33% year-on-year; during the same period, China's stainless steel exports were 3.4169 million tons, a year-on-year decrease of 6.95%, and the gap between exports and imports narrowed.

From January to May this year, China's stainless steel imports totaled 1.0699 million tons, an increase of 613,900 tons, or 134.68% year-on-year; the total export volume was 1.6474 million tons, an increase of 271,500 tons, or 19.74% year-on-year. Despite the double growth of imports and exports, the growth rate of imports was significantly faster than that of exports.

Li Xinchuang said in an interview with a reporter from China News Agency on the sidelines of the meeting that from a policy perspective, starting from May 1, 2021, China will cancel export tax rebates for some steel products, involving a total of 146 commodity codes. Many stainless steel products are among them. In addition, China's mineral resources such as nickel, chromium, manganese, and iron required for the production of stainless steel are seriously inadequate and rely heavily on imports. In addition, due to the rigid constraints of domestic carbon emissions in the future, the method of mass production and re-export of stainless steel needs to be adjusted.

Of course, domestic demand is still fundamental to support the domestic consumption of stainless steel products. Li Jianmin, chief engineer of Taiyuan Iron and Steel (Group) Co., Ltd., said here that in 2020, the per capita consumption of stainless steel in the European Union, South Korea, Japan and other economies will be 32 kilograms, while China's only 18 kilograms. The world's stainless steel crude steel output accounts for 3.9% of the total steel output, while China's only 2.9%. Therefore, China's stainless steel consumption still has a lot of room for development.

Li Jianmin, chief engineer of Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group, said that the consumption of stainless steel in China in the past ten years has been positively correlated with the growth rate of GDP. It is expected that during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, if the annual GDP growth is calculated by about 6%, the consumption of stainless steel will increase by 8 per year. %about.

Li Xinchuang also believes that China's per capita apparent consumption of stainless steel will further increase in the future, because China is constantly promoting the application of stainless steel in new fields, especially in the construction field, and the prospects are very broad.

Gong Wei, the Science and Technology and Industrialization Development Center of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said that stainless steel has the characteristics of corrosion resistance and low maintenance, which can meet the "safe and durable" requirements of green buildings. Relevant studies have shown that the initial investment of stainless steel is relatively high, but due to its durability and low maintenance characteristics, it has cost advantages compared to colored aluminum, copper, zinc, and concrete from the perspective of its full life cycle.

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At the same time, Gong Wei pointed out that stainless steel has the characteristics of safety and sanitation, and meets the "healthy and comfortable" requirements of green buildings, which is mainly manifested in the field of water supply pipes. The stainless steel water supply pipe is not easy to build up dirt for a long time, effectively avoiding secondary pollution of water quality, and ensuring the safety of water supply.

Qingtuo Group Research Institute Changjiang Laizhu said that if carbon steel is exposed to corrosive environments such as offshore or industrial atmosphere for a long time, as the rust layer peels off, various mechanical performance indicators will significantly decrease. Even in a normal atmospheric environment, the service life of steel anticorrosive coating is usually only about 15 years. Later maintenance is difficult and expensive, and some important structural facilities are difficult to maintain.

But stainless steel is different. Taking the Chrysler Building in the United States as an example, Jiang Laizhu pointed out that the building was built in 1930 and used 316 and 304 stainless steel as the building curtain wall. So far, the building has a history of 90 years, and there is no wear or metal replacement on the exterior. He believes that stainless steel for building curtain walls has the longest service life and is also one of the most valuable materials. After 50 years of use, there will still be more than 90% recycled space.

Many experts believe that with the improvement of Chinese people's living standards and the massive construction of green buildings during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, stainless steel will have greater market space in construction, high-end equipment manufacturing, and steel upgrades for household appliances. (Source: China News Network)


Post time: Jul-09-2021
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