2019 PREVIEW: Asia's billet supply set to rise despite weak market, stiff competition
Prices for steel billet in Asia are likely to come under greater pressure in 2019 with demand for it as well as downstream long steel products expected to stay subdued amid an impending surge in new supply, sources told Fastmarkets MB.
“Regional demand is weak, so there is not enough room for everyone,” a Vietnam-based trader said, referring to a string of new billet production capacity set to come online this year.
Southeast Asian buyers are expected to procure more materials from regional suppliers once the increased supply becomes available, at the same time reducing their reliance on traditional suppliers outside the region, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
“Import volumes from outside Southeast Asia will probably shrink, although I doubt the region will become completely self-sufficient in billet,” a Singapore-based trader said.
“But competition will increase within Southeast Asia and bring prices down, similar to the situation in end-2018 when more Malaysian and Vietnamese billet became available,” he added.
Vietnam’s Pomina Steel Corp’s Pomina 3 mill is poised to grab more market share in Asia with a newly expanded blast furnace starting up in March-April.