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.
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 reached 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.
In 2013, Crude Steel Production hit a new record high in March, at 134.5mt.
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 2012 when compared to 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 26% fall when compared to 2011. Apart from the USA, large increases in imports were seen in Thailand, 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. 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 4%. China's imports rose faster than the rise in domestic crude steel production, suggesting a fall in the contribution from domestic mines, 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.
The decline in Indian iron ore exports continued into 2012, as they fell by 27% on the previous year. The slack was taken up by Australia, with exports up by 13% to over half a billion tonnes. Total trade from the top 15 nations increased by 5% to a new record level.
Global Trade in Scrap
In 2012, global imports of scrap fell (by 2%) for the first time in recent history. This fall, slightly mitigated by increases in Turkish, South Korean and Indian imports, was driven by reductions in the EU as a continued lack of demand in the construction sector led to reduced EAF production; and falls in Chinese imports as more Chinese scrap was sourced internally.
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