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EghtesadOnline: Major Iranian steelmakers exported 571,888 tons of semi-finished and finished steel products in the second month of the current Iranian year (April 21-May 21), registering a 24% drop compared with last year’s corresponding period.

Export volume for the first two months of the year stood at 931,461 tons, down 1% year-on-year, Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization reported.

The downturn in shipments of most products came, as the global slab market was under pressure from the downtrends in coking coal and iron ore prices in May, amid weakening fundamentals in the flat steel market triggered by falling prices in China, Metal Bulletin reported.

Khouzestan Steel Company was the biggest exporter in the second Iranian month, as it shipped 293,262 tons of slab, bloom and billet. Its exports were up 120% YOY, making the company one of the few mills to post growth in export volumes, Financial Tribune reported.

Bloom exports made up the bulk of KSC's shipments with 176,345 tons and were up 118% YOY. The company's billet exports, however, were down 71% to 15,157 tons.

KSC’s two-month exports were up 100% to stand at 460,357 tons.

Khouzestan Steel Company became Iran’s largest exporter of steel last year (March 2016-17) by shipping 1.9 million tons, overtaking Iranian steelmaker Mobarakeh Steel Company for the first time.

The company shipped about 52% of its 3.6-million-ton output for the year with profits jumping over 300% compared to the year before to 6.7 trillion rials ($176.31 million).

KSC currently exports to 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, Far East and Americas.

Hormozgan Steel Company was the second biggest exporter with 97,040 tons of slab, down 52% YOY. HOSCO’s two-month shipments dropped 27% to 149,040 tons.

This is the first time HSOCO, a subsidiary of Mobarakeh Steel Company, is overtaking its parent company in exports.

MSC staged an underwhelming performance during April 21-May 21. It exported a total of 89,039 tons of hot-rolled, galvanized and checkered flat steel in addition to slab, down 70% YOY. Two-month exports were down 57% to 139,708 tons. The export of all of the company's products had double digit negative growth.

However, the company’s production and total sales were both up for the first month of the year, according to MSC’s reports published on Tehran Stock Exchange.

It appears that MSC’s commitment to the local market has increased even further following continued criticism by domestic downstream producers who have called for boosting supplies of flat steel and semis. Intensified protectionist trade policies in Europe and key Asian markets such as Thailand have also played a role.

Esfahan Steel Company was the fourth largest exporter of the month with 70,256 tons, down 31% YOY. Shipments across the entire spectrum of the company's steel products dropped. Its rebar exports fell most (274% to 25,395 tons).

ESCO’s two-month exports stood at 132,677 tons, recording a 17% decline YOY.

The Isfahan-based producer is Iran’s oldest steelmaker and one of the country’s largest producers of structural steel. It was jointly established in 1965 by Iran and the Soviet Union’s Tyazhpromexport Company.

According to the company’s managing director, Ahmad Sadeqi, the major long steel producer is exporting all its products for now.

"Domestic demand is quiet and 100% of the company's products are being exported for the time being. Esfahan Steel is being saved by its profitable exports and we hope that this will continue in the future," he said.

Khorasan Steel Company came next as its rebar exports in April 21-May 21 surged 324% to 14,972 tons, making it the only mill besides KSC to post growth. The company's two-month shipments stood at 19,221 tons, up 17% YOY.

Iran Alloy Steel Company was the sixth largest exporter with 6,633 tons of rebars down 30% YOY, though its two-month exports were up 182% to 28,411 tons.

Khouzestan Oxin Steel Company was next with 686 tons of sheet down 50%. It exported a total of 2,047 tons in two months, down 32% YOY.

Bolstering exports is part of Iran’s ambitious steel industry expansion plan. As part of the 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25), the industry is stipulated to become the world’s sixth largest steelmaker by reaching an output capacity of 55 million tons by the deadline.

According to experts, Iran has to export at least 15 million tons by then to keep such a production volume economically viable.

Iranian steelmakers exported over 3.74 million tons of semis and 1.79 million tons of steel products in the last fiscal year, registering a 108% and 16% growth respectively compared to the preceding year, the Iranian Steel Producers Association said.

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