Year 2013 experienced a modest expansion in the steel production of only 2.4% to 1.582 million tonnes. With this figure we have to realize that it covers also a range of national and regional variations. On the other side, these variations are milder than it was in 2008 when the financial crises fully hit in many countries and weakened the markets for years. We can call this is a good sign of stability and recovery, but nothing else.
Economies in Europe and the Japan economy have been slowly improving, while the steel production in China, the world leader in this industry, is slowing down.
Focus on China
Still, China remains the worlds number one producer of steel. China is producing 49% of world’s total steel and in 2013 China’s production increased by 8.7% to 779 million tonnes.
Given the past growth of the Chinese steel production, it is expected to hit 50% this year. Althought the home production is increasing, the home demand is decreasing. Already in 2013 China’s output was greater than the demand on the internal market which ensured China’s position of the world’s number one steel exporter.
Looking at this year data, it is visible that the production growth is slower than in the previous years. Year-on-year data of the first four months of 2014 shows output of 271.9 million tonnes. Chinese goverment is becoming more and more concerned about the outdated technology in the steel industry and the level of overcapacity. It is attempting to slowdown the steelmaking growth in order to improve the industry’s economic viability.
Focus on Europe
The European Union is the second largest steel producer. Still shaken with the recent financial crisis, the steel output declined last year by 2% after a fall of 5% in 2012. However, the production rose in the first four months by 6.2%. The recovery in the EU region is very slow. The 2013 production level was 22% below its pre-crisis peak of 210 million tonnes in 2007.
Lookin at the internal market in the EU, the numbers are looking much better. As an interesting fact, the internal steel market within the EU region is matching with the size if the internal steel trade in Asia!
The forecast for the EU market is to rise by 2.1% this year and 2.4% the next year.
Jovelle W. // SMC Editor
International Trade and Marketing Specialist
Data in this article are taken from Metal Bulletin Monthly Magazine June 2014