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BEIJING: China’s iron ore imports rose 2.8% for the first two months of 2021 from a year earlier, customs data showed on Sunday, as demand for the steelmaking ingredient was supported by a firm consumption outlook.

The world’s top steelmaking nation brought in 181.5 million tonnes of iron ore in January and February, up from 176.6 million tonnes for the same period a year earlier, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs.

The rise was within analysts’ expectations, as shipments from China’s top two suppliers grew steadily. Those arrivals from Australia and Brazil rose 11% to 164 million tonnes, Refinitiv vessel-tracking data showed.

The China Iron and Steel Association forecasts steel demand will grow slightly this year, buoying sentiment in the ferrous sector. But the industry ministry had repeatedly urged companies to cut China’s crude steel output this year in line with President Xi Jinping’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.

“It remains unclear how the production reduction is going to be implemented,” Zhuo Guiqiu, an analyst with Jinrui Capital, said before data was released.

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