Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/17/2012 -- The Taiwanese steel industry is bracing itself for a year of contraction in output as it faces increasingly hostile domestic and regional market trends. We expect 2012 production to decline to 21.8 million tonnes (mnt) from 22.7mnt in 2011. Aggressive property market cooling measures by the Chinese government has significantly affected the prospects of Taiwanese steel manufacturers. This situation is also exacerbated by the current glut in the steel market and the rising protectionist tendencies of European economies. Looking at the sales of the major Taiwanese steel manufacturers from January to May 2012, it has not been a good year so far.
Taiwan's output of basic metals rose by 5.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2011, while its fabricated metal products output grew by 8.4% on the back of a 12.9% y-o-y rise in the value of exports to US$30.65bn. Taiwanese crude steel production grew 15.4% y-o-y to 22.7mnt in 2011, with the World Steel Association (WSA) revising up its estimates. The outcome was higher than the 22.4mnt forecast in BMI's previous quarterly report and was assisted by healthy export orders -the value of basic metal and metal product export orders rose 12.9% y-o-y to US$30.65bn in 2011, according to data from the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs. However, Taiwan's leading steelmaker, China Steel Corporation (CSC), reported output of 8.7mnt in 2011, down 9.9% y-o-y, while its sales volume reached TWD234.4bn (US$7.8bn), up 8.8% y-o-y.
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The first half of 2011 was characterised by strong growth in production and consumption, only to see it disappear and lose momentum by the second half. Nevertheless, Taiwan's Metal Industries Research & Development Center revealed that the country's steel industry achieved 7.1% growth in 2011, with the total output for the industry reaching TWD1.5trn, significantly above the 2010 value of TWD1.4trn. Exports totalled TWD560bn in 2011, a 9.9% increase from 2010 levels of TWD510bn. The recovery in 2011 is unlikely to be repeated in 2012 given weak May YTD sales levels among the country's top steel producers.
The industry is operating at around 80% capacity with room for growth, though improvement in utilisation will likely be a long-term, rather than near-term trend. Although growth was better than expected in H211, we believe the inevitable contraction has simply been delayed rather than averted. In the first two months of 2012, crude steel output fell 3.7% y-o-y.
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