BEIJING - China's steel imports are expected to rise in 2021 as domestic appetite increases but the country's steel exports are seen falling as global demand remains tepid amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an industry association said on Wednesday.
"Currently (the) global pandemic has not been controlled fundamentally, (and the) recovery of international steel demand and production still faces many difficulties," China Iron and Steel Association's (CISA) Vice Chairwoman Qu Xiuli said.
China can increase imports of billets and hot-briquetted iron (HBI) to meet the increasing demand for steel and steel-making raw material without ramping up output, vice chairman Luo Tiejun said.
Last December, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) called for the energy-intensive steel sector to "resolutely" reduce crude steel output in 2021.
China's demand for steel products will see a slight increase this year, Qu said.
In 2020, China imported 20.23 million tonnes of steel, up 64.4% from 2019, China customs data showed. But China's exports of steel products fell 16.5% to 53.67 million tonnes last year.
China, the world's top steel producer, churned out 1.05 billion tonnes of crude steel last year, up 5.2% from 2019, increasing for a fifth consecutive year.
(Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Tom Hogue and Ana Nicolaci da Costa) ((ShivaniSingh2@thomsonreuters.com; +86 10 5669 2115;))