Demand for steel in Thailand increased markedly in the first half of this year, up 1.5 percent year-on-year to 8.48 million tons. Just in 2017, the apparent demand for steel in Thailand plunged 14 percent year-on-year to 16.5 million tons, mainly due to destocking measures by the Thai steel industry. But demand for steel in Thailand has picked up slightly this year. That is roughly in line with growth in the country's two largest steel consumption sectors, construction and the auto industry.
The country's construction industry grew 1.6 percent in the first half of the year, compared with a drop of 1.4 percent in the same period last year, according to a report released by the national economic and social development commission. 'in the long run, Thailand will see strong growth in public construction due to increased spending on large projects,' the bank said in a research note in April.
In the first half of this year, car production in Thailand increased by 1.35 percent year-on-year, according to the Thai automobile research institute. While domestic sales were down 1.56 percent year on year, Thailand's auto industry continued to grow, with exports up 2.22 percent year on year over the same period. Thailand's demand for new cars will increase by between 4 million and 5 million vehicles between 2018 and 2020, according to data released by the research institute of Thailand's grand city bank.
It is the growth of domestic and international demand for steel that has kept Thai steel production stable. Thailand's steel output remained at 3.46 million tons in the first half of this year, while total steel imports increased 4.4 percent year-on-year to 5.8 million tons. On the other hand, Thai steel exports rose 15.2 percent year-on-year to 778 million tons.
In terms of output of specific products, in the first half of this year, Thailand's long material demand dropped by 6.5% year-on-year to 2.66 million tons, domestic long material output dropped by 10.9% to 1.9 million tons year-on-year, and the sheet material output increased by 16% to 1.6 million tons year-on-year.
On the import side, in the first half of this year, the import volume of Thai long material increased by 10.9% to 1.2 million tons year-on-year (among which, the import volume of bar material increased by 19.0% year-on-year, the import volume of wire material increased by 15.3% year-on-year), and the import volume of plate material increased by 2.8% year-on-year to 4.6 million tons. The main reason for the increase of plate imports is the moderate increase of cold rolled coil and coated sheet, while the import of hot rolled coil decreases slightly.
In terms of exports, Thailand, as a major steel exporter in the asean region, saw a year-on-year growth of 21% to 420,000 tons in the first half of this year, of which 130,000 tons were for bar materials and 14,000 tons for coil rods.
But exports of Thai profiles fell slightly, falling 0.9 per cent year-on-year to 150,000 tonnes. In the first half of this year, the export volume of Thai board increased by 8.9 percent year-on-year to 354,000 tons. Hot-rolled sheet exports are usually modest, but recently increased from less than 10,000 tons in the first half of 2017 to nearly 50,000 tons in the same period in 2018.
Exports of cold rolled coil increased modestly, by 6.3 per cent year-on-year to 108,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, exports of coated panels plunged 23.2 per cent year-on-year to less than 100,000 tonnes.
According to Thai customs, most of Thailand's plate exports in the first half of this year were to Vietnam, of which hot-rolled coil exports were mainly to Malaysia.