World Steel Output Still Rising Despite Tariffs

Sept. 2, 2019
While most producer nations have flat or declining production volumes, China’s tonnage is up 9.0% year-to-date

Steelmakers worldwide have increased raw steel output +4.6% since January, compared to the comparable seven-month period of 2018. In July, global steel output totaled 85.2 million metric tons, down -1.4% from June but increasing +1.7% from July 2018.

The data is notable because of declining manufacturing output across most major global indexes. In addition, the uncertainty in global trade that is attributed to the tariffs controversy between the U.S. and China is premised largely on Chinese steel exports.

Chinese steelmakers produced 85.2 million metric tons of raw steel during July, -2.64% less than during June but +5.0% more than during July 2018. Through seven months of 2019, the Chinese industry has increased its raw steel production volume to 577.1 million metric tons, or  +9.0% over the comparable period of 2018.

U.S. steelmakers produced 7.5 million metric tons (8.3 million short tons) of raw steel during July, +3.73% more than in June and +1.8% more than in July 2018. For the year to-date, U.S. steelmakers have produced 51.8 million metric tons (57.1 million short tons) of raw steel, a year-over-year increase of 4.8%.

In contrast to China, and in line with the U.S. trend, steel production in most of the other major steel-producing nations has remain fairly flat or decreased year-over-year and year-to-date.

Japanese steelmakers produced 8.39 million metric tons during July, -2.1% less than during July 2018, and the nation’s year-to-date output of 59.5 million metric tons is down -3.1% versus January-July 2018.

European Union steel output slipped just -0.2% from July 2018 to July 2019, and at 98.2 million metric tons produced for January-July, the region’s output is down -2.4% year-to-date.

The data is supplied by the World Steel Assn. in its monthly raw-steel production report, which represents producers in 64 countries comprising about 99% of the world’s installed raw-steel capacity.  (Stainless and specialty steel volumes are reported separately.)

At the start of the second quarter, World Steel projected total global consumption of steel in 2019 will increase 1.3% year-over-year to 1.735 billion metric tons. Expansion will be even smaller in 2020, rising just 1.0% year-over-year to 1.752 billion metric tons, it indicated.