Global steel demand growth to slow in 2014, Worldsteel says

Global steel demand will increase more slowly in 2014 than in 2013 as China’s economic growth loses impetus and emerging economies struggle with structural issues, the World Steel Assn (Worldsteel) has said.

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The organisation also predicted on Wednesday April 9 that the EU and USA will move back into positive steel demand growth as a steady recovery continues in the world’s developed economies.

Global steel consumption will rise by 3.1% to 1.53 billion tonnes in 2014 and by 3.3% in 2015 to 1.58 billion tonnes, Worldsteel said.

In 2013, global steel demand grew by 3.6% to 1.48 billion tonnes, according to Worldsteel’s latest short-term outlook report for 2014 and 2015, published on April 9.

The 2013 growth rate was higher than Worldsteel initially forecast, and was achieved because of a stronger-than-expected performance in the USA and EU in the second half of the year.

China deceleration
Chinese steel demand growth will slow to 3.0% in 2014, from 6.1% growth in 2013, as investment activity decreases on government efforts to rebalance the economy.

China used 700 million tonnes of steel in 2013. It is expected to use 721 million tonnes in 2014 and 741 million tonnes in 2015, as growth decelerates further to 2.7%.

“We are used to China being the driver of the world’s economy,” Worldsteel director Edwin Basson said. “This era is coming to an end, but there is no candidate waiting in the wings to take over.”

“This means we will probably see more moderate changes in steel use, and more moderate and stable growth,” he added.

Demand growth in India, the second most populous nation, is set to increase from 1.8% in 2013 to 3.3% in 2014, and 4.5% in 2015, on improved construction and manufacturing sectors. However, the country has its “own set of challenges” and is unlikely to replace China in the next few years.

“India is at a point where its capacity is fully used. It will have to decide whether to expand or rely on imported material,” Basson said.

Developed economies important
Developing economies will play less of a role in driving global steel consumption in the coming years as they struggle with structural issues and financial market volatility, Worldsteel said.

“Since 2008, developing economies have been the main drivers of growth. This year, for the first time, developing economies are stepping back – 2014-15 will depend more on the economic experience of developed economies,” Basson said.

EU steel consumption contracted by 0.2% in 2013 but is expected to grow by 3.1% in 2014 to 143 million tonnes and by 3.0% in 2015 to 148 million tonnes, as the downturn bottoms out and the health of the construction sector improves, Worldsteel said.

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