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Global steel usage increase forecast to slow

World Steel Association : 16 October, 2012  (Special Report)
The World Steel Association has released its October 2012 Short Range Outlook (SRO) for 2012 and 2013, the half year revision from its April 2012 statement. worldsteel forecasts that global apparent steel use will increase by 2.1% in 2012, which is considerably lower than the 6.2% growth achieved in 2011. In 2013 world steel demand will grow by 3.2% and reach a record high of 1455 million tonnes.
Global steel usage increase forecast to slow

Commenting, Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, Chairman of the WorldSteel Economics Committee said, “Earlier this year we were seeing some signs of recovery from the slowdown of the last quarter of 2011 and we expected a better second half performance in 2012. However, the economic situation deteriorated during the second quarter of this year due to continued uncertainty arising from the debt crisis in euro zone and a sharper than expected slowdown in China. These factors have weighed heavily on business confidence and manufacturing activities around the world. As a result momentum in both the developed and emerging part of the world weakened considerably."

"However, we expect the situation to gradually improve in 2013 on the basis that the euro zone crisis can be contained, the US successfully deals with the fiscal tightening due in 2013 and the economic stimuli measures secure a soft landing in China. Since the 2008 economic crisis, uncertainty and volatility has become the norm for the steel industry, but it is worth noting that world steel demand has maintained positive growth despite all the headwinds and lingering difficulties”, Kerkhoff concluded.

Apparent steel usage (source: World Steel Association)

Steel demand in China is expected to increase by 2.5% to 639.5 million tonnes in 2012 after 6.2% growth in 2011.  In 2013, Government stimulus measures are likely to moderately improve the economic situation. This follows sluggish exports resulting from the global economic slowdown. Thus China’s apparent steel use is expected to rise by 3.1% and will reach 659.2 million tonnes in 2013.

Similarly, due to both unfavourable domestic and external economic conditions, India’s steel demand growth is projected to slow down to 5.5% in 2012 and 5.0% in 2013. Apparent steel use will reach 73.6 Mt in 2012 and 77.3 Mt in 2013.

Apparent steel use in NAFTA is expected to grow by a healthy 7.5% in 2012 to 130.4 million tonnes, due to improvements in construction activities and a strong performance from the automotive industry, but in 2013 steel demand growth will slow to 3.6%. Apparent steel use will reach 135.1 million tonnes.

Most countries in Central and South America are also facing headwinds from the poor external economic environment as well as domestic tightening.  Apparent steel use in the region is forecast to rise by 3.8% in 2012, but in 2013 it is projected to grow by 6.3% and reach 50.4 million tonnes

With the debt crisis in the euro zone weighing heavily on the economic activities of the countries in the region, apparent steel use in EU 27 is expected to decline by -5.6% in 2012. In particular, apparent steel use in Spain and Italy in 2012 is expected to fall by -11.9% and -12.6%, respectively. The most resilient country Germany will also experience a decline of -4.7% in 2012. In 2013, the situation is expected to improve and steel demand in EU 27 will recover by 2.4%. Steel demand in Europe, however, remains at a depressed level and economic growth between countries continues to be uneven.

Japan’s apparent steel use is projected to increase by 2.2% to 65.5 million tonnes in 2012, aided by the reconstruction activities and government stimulus measures. However, the manufacturing sector is struggling with the strong yen and falling exports and in 2013 steel demand in Japan will decline by -2.9% to 63.6 million tonnes.

In the CIS, apparent steel use is forecast to rise by 0.8% in 2012 and by 3.9% in 2013, much slower than the 13.8% achieved in 2011. Steel demand in 2012 will be 55.2 million tonnes and 57.4 million tonnes in 2013.

The recovery of steel demand in the MENA region has been slower than expected due to continuing political instability but apparent steel use in the region will still increase by 4.9% in 2012. In 2013 the growth rate is expected to accelerate to 6.7% and steel demand will reach 66.9 million tonnes.

The developing and emerging world overall will see their steel demand growing by 3.0% and 3.7% in 2012 and 2013 respectively, whereas in the developed world steel demand will contract by -0.3% in 2012 and then grow by 1.9% growth in 2013. 

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