ISSB maintains a detailed database of the imports and exports of steel and steelmaking raw materials for more than 50 major steelmaking nations, collectively accounting for 97% of global steel output. This high level of coverage also allows an accurate assessment of the trade flows for those countries for which we cannot obtain national trade data.
2010 saw global output total 1,429 million tonnes, 16% up on 2009 and 6% higher than the previous peak reached in 2007. Having recorded growth in 2009 China saw a below average 11% increase in output in 2010 while the average recovery on 2009 levels for the rest of the world was 20%.
In 2011 global output reached 1,517 million tonnes, 6% up on 2010 with Chinese output up by 7% and with the rest of the world averaging a 5% increase. 2011 production was 13% ahead of the 2007 pre-recession total driven by Chinese output up by 40% over the period. An average 3% fall elsewhere between 2007 and 2011 included EU27 down by 16%, the US down 12%, Japan lower by 10% and with CIS producers averaging a 9% fall, as traditional steelmaking nations fared worse than average.
Crude Steel production in 2012 hit another record high, reaching 1,547 million tonnes, but at just 1% higher than in 2011, this represents a slowdown in growth with some regions showing a decline. The EU fared particularly badly, with Crude Steel production in this region showing a 5% fall.
Below we summarise World Steel Association crude steel production data.
Of the large steel producing nations, China continued to export more steel and is now by far the largest exporter in the world. The EU exported an increased amount as internal demand fell and a weak Euro made their exports more competitive. South Korea, Russia and Turkey also showed large increases in their exports of steel.
The world’s largest steel importer, the US imported 17% more in the first 9 months of 2012 when compared to the same period of 2011 as the economy started to recover following the downturn. China and South Korea continued to position themselves more as net exporters as higher domestic production led to a fall in imports. The widely publicised demand problems within the EU are shown here clearly with a 30% fall on the first three months of 2011. Apart from the USA, large increases in imports were seen in Thailand, India, Mexico and Indonesia.
Global Trade in Steelmaking Raw Materials
Global Trade in Iron Ore
Iron ore exports are dominated by Australia and Brazil, with demand driven by Chinese imports. Global BOS production fell just 4% in 2009 with growth of 13% in China countering a 23% fall across the rest of the world. Moreover 2009 saw Chinese imports of iron ore increase 41% on 2008 to 628 million tonnes, as the contribution from domestic mines fell. Despite the other major iron ore importers recording reduced imports this surge in Chinese import demand was sufficient to see 2009 total export levels reach record levels, up 9% on 2008.
2010 saw iron ore exports reach new heights with combined shipments by the top 15 exporting nations reaching 280 million tonnes in Quarter 4 alone and with annual shipments exceeding 1 billion tonnes for the first time. The 2010 total represents a 12% increase on 2009 levels and was reached despite a 1% fall in China's imports.
2011 saw iron ore exports rise by 5%. China's imports again rose faster than the rise in domestic crude steel production with the 2011 total of 687 million tonnes 11% up on 2010. Of the major exporters only India showed a decline, following increases to export tariffs.
Global Trade in Scrap
In 2011, the global trade in scrap increased by 7%, driven by a recovery in the amount of scrap imported by China and the continued increase of scrap imported by Turkey, already by far the largest scrap importer in the world, which was up 12% year on year.
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