Japanese output should display some improvement this year following a decline in 2012. Purchasing should strengthen from the construction and industrial machinery segments. However, downside risks remain because shipbuilders continue to struggle with weak order books for new vessels and this is reducing demand for ship plate.
Apparent consumption of plate shrank in South Korea last year as both production and imports contracted. Exports held up as the mills continued to push sales abroad to compensate for a sluggish domestic market. However, they struggled with regional competition and low product prices. Only a minimal increase is envisaged for output and demand in 2013. The requirements of shipyards are likely to be even lower this year compared with the previous twelve months.
The shipbuilding industry is also depressed in China. This is adversely affecting the output of plate makers. Total production fell 10 percent last year, with heavy plate declining by a larger percentage than medium plate. The outlook for 2013 is poor.