BMI View : Japan's metal industry is set for slight growth over the coming years, driven by continued reconstruction efforts from the earthquake over three years ago. In addition, the government is pursuing stim ulus measures which should give a boost to construction industries. However, given our bearish view on steel prices, as well as the relatively high costs of production in Japan, there will only be modest growth as the economy nears saturation levels.
Over the long term we expect production and consumption trends to fall back to low single figures, in line with growth forecasts for the Japanese economy as a whole. Japan remains one of the largest producers and consumers of these metals, but faces a declining share of world output and demand, as China and up-and-coming India rapidly increase production and consumption in most metals.
Although steel prices have dipped since the start of 2012, we expect to see a slight rebound in 2014. We expect steel production to rebound on the back of increased demand as construction efforts get underway, but it will be short-lived, with production growth experiencing a steady decline from 2014-2016.
Overall, we expect production of refined metals to outpace growth in demand, leading to an output surplus over the coming years. Indeed, we expect Japan to become a larger net nickel exporter from 2014. We therefore expect Japan's exports of refined metals to increase, with the primary export market being China, a market we expect to remain reliant on imported metals, at least in the short- to medium-term.
| Flat Lining Growth |
|Japan - Steel Output (kt)|
Our forecasts are based on the premise that the Japanese economy will slowly recover from recession and the 2011 earthquake, and will then continue its pre-crisis trend of slow growth. Consequently, there are downside risks to our forecasts depending on the performance of the wider economy. If the country shows signs of a slower than expected recovery we will consider...