BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- China's steel producers reported steady output growth in the first quarter, with production of crude steel up 9.9 percent to 231 million tonnes, data from an industry association showed Sunday.
In the first three months, China exported 17.03 million tonnes of steel products, up 12.6 percent year on year, while imports came in at 2.9 million tonnes, down 16.1 percent, according to the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA).
Following decades of reckless investment-driven expansion, China's steel mills have been running at overcapacity in recent years, incurring heavy losses for producers and becoming a drag on economic growth that prompted the government to take measures to cut outdated capacity.
Sunday's data showed Chinese steel companies monitored by the CISA made combined profits of 37.5 billion yuan (5.6 billion U.S. dollars) in Q1, down 30.2 percent year on year.
To made the industry more competitive, China will soon release guidelines to push mergers and restructuring plans for the creation of larger and stronger groups in the global market, according to a recent report by the Economic Information Daily.
The guidelines, aiming to clear obstacles in steel consolidation, will encourage cross-region and cross-ownership mergers and restructurings by qualified enterprises, said the paper citing unnamed authorities.
Market funds will also be welcome to take part in the effort to offer more financial support for the move, the paper said.