Global Steel Tonnage Rose +3.4% in 2019

Feb. 5, 2020
Despite weaker demand worldwide, China's steelmakers' output rose +7.8% to 996.3 million metric tons – and raised their share of total output to 53.3%.

Worldwide production of raw steel rose 3.4% year-over-year for 2019, up to 1.87 billion metric tons across the 64 countries reporting data to the World Steel Assn. The figure is within range of total projected by World Steel in its recent short-term forecast, which put total 2019 global steel output at 1.775 billion metric tons.

The Association is a trade group of steelmakers that coordinates production and other data, issuing monthly reports on steel output. "Raw steel" is the product of basic-oxygen or electric arc furnaces, and cast into semi-finished forms like billets for bar and rod products; slabs for flat products; or blooms, for beam and pipe products.

The 2019 summary showed raw-steel output decreasing in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania — in every region tracked by World Steel except Asia and the Middle East. Broadly speaking, this is a consequence of weak demand in major steel-consuming sectors (manufacturing and construction), globally and in the respective regions.

However, Chinese steel production continued to expand during 2019, up 8.3% over 2018 to 996.3 million metric tons. In its October 2019 forecast, World Steel estimated steel demand in China would grow by 7.8% to 900.1 million metric tons. As a result, China increased its share of global raw-steel production to 53.3% in 2019, up from 50.9% for 2018.

Two other major steel-producing nations in Asia decreased their annual production totals for 2019 — Japan, -4.8% to 99.3 million metric tons; South Korea, -1.4% to 71.4 million metric tons; while the Indian steel industry increased its output by 1.8% to 111.2 million metric tons.

The decrease in South Korean tonnage caused that nation to slip from fifth to sixth among the world's largest steel producing nations.

In the European Union, regional steel production for 2019 was 159.4 million metric tons, a decrease of -4.9% compared to 2018. German steelmakers produced 39.7 million metric tons, down -6.5% versus 2018. In Italy,  production fell -5.2% year-over-year to 23.2 million metric tons.

French steelmakers' 2019 output was 14.5 million metric tons, -6.1% compared 2018. Spain's steel industry produced 13.6 million metric tons during 2019, -5.2% versus the previous year's total.

The Russian steel industry, which rose to fifth-largest in the world by volume during 2019, produced 71.6 million metric tons for the year, a drop of -0.7% from 2018. In the Ukraine, raw-steel production slipped to 20.8 million metric tons for 2019, down -1.2% compared to 2018.

U.S. steelmakers' 2019 output was 87.9 million metric tons (96.9 million short tons) of raw steel, an increase of 1.5% over the 2018 total. The U.S. industry ranks fourth-largest by volume among the world's steel-producing nations.