The drive to industrialisation in Asia has made it the region with the world’s highest steel production and demand. ISSB holds trade data at 6 digit HS tariff level for the dominant Asian steel nations: China, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, whom together produce 99.5% of the region’s steel. Additionally, with export coverage of 97% of steel production globally, ISSB is ideally placed to assess the market for steel in those Asian countries for which national trade data is not readily available, such as Vietnam and Pakistan.
Asian steel output is dominated by the development of Chinese steel production and it is the only major region not to suffer a decline during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009. China accounted for just 39% of Asia’s crude steel production in 2000 which has now risen to 72% as Chinese production increased more than five-fold between 2000 and 2013. Indian production has also grown fast, from 27 million tonnes in 2000 to 81 million tonnes in 2013. In 2000, Asia as a whole accounted for 39% of global crude steel production with China accounting for 15%. By 2013 China accounted for 48% of the global total on its own with Asia as a whole accounting for 67%.
Below we summarise World Steel Association crude steel production data for Asia.
Asia contains some of the world’s largest steel exporting and importing nations.
Chinese steel exports have dominated headlines in recent years, not just because of the total tonnages being exported, but also due to their volatility. With Chinese production levels so high, even small changes in the proportion going to the domestic market can create export surges with serious implications for markets elsewhere. 2010 saw exports rise by 79% while imports fell by 24%, resulting in a net export of 22 million tonnes for the year. 2011 saw exports rise by a further 15% with imports again down by 5%, resulting in net exports climbing to 28 million tonnes. This trend continued in 2012 and 2013 with Chinese exports last year, particularly in the latter half, showing a sustained increase, above 4 million tonnes per month, with December finishing the year at 5 million tonnes.
Compared to China, Japanese steel exports tend to be much steadier over time. With exports in 2009 down just 11% Japan became, once again, the world largest steel exporter which is a position it retained in 2010. 2011 saw exports fade by 5% dropping Japan to second largest steel exporter after China. In 2012, exports increased by just 2% to leave Japan remaining as the 2nd largest exporter in the world.
Before the world economic downturn, South Korea was a net importer of steel. Apart from brief periods in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the trend now is for the country to be a net steel exporter.
In addition to China, Japan and South Korea ISSB holds national trade data from the other major steel producing nations in Asia: India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore.
Given our coverage which includes exports by countries producing 99.5% of the steel in Asia and 97% of steel produced globally ISSB are excellently placed to assess the markets for steel in countries, such as Vietnam, where national trade statistics are not readily available.
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