The drive to industrialisation in Asia has made it the region with the world’s highest steel production and demand. ISSB holds trade data at 6 digit HS tariff level for the dominant Asian steel nations: China, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, whom together produce 99.3% of the region’s steel. Additionally, with export coverage of 97% of steel production globally, ISSB is ideally placed to assess the market for steel in those Asian countries for which national trade data is not readily available, such as Vietnam and Pakistan.
Crude Steel Production
Asian steel output has been dominated by the development of Chinese steel production in recent years. The country accounted for just 39% of the region’s crude steel production in 2000 compared to 72% in 2014 and accounted for close to half of all world production. The big story this year has been the slow-down of Chinese production, however, as the country struggles with a slow-down in internal demand. This year, production increased by under 0.5% and for the first time the drivers behind the reported 1.2% regional increase were countries other than China. India is another country to have grown quickly in recent years with production of 27 million tonnes in 2000 increasing to 86.5 million tonnes last year with a 6.4% increase over 2013. The largest year on year increase from a major Asian producer was seen in South Korea, however, with an 8.3% increase over a poor showing in 2013.
Below we summarise World Steel Association crude steel production data for Asia.
Trade in Steel
Asia contains some of the world’s largest steel exporting and importing nations.
Chinese steel exports have dominated headlines in recent years, not just because of the total tonnages being exported, but also due to their volatility. With Chinese production levels so high, even small changes in the proportion going to the domestic market can create export surges with serious implications for markets elsewhere. Over the past year, however, the slow-down in internal demand within the country has led to an unprecedented growth in Chinese exports that is being felt across the world. At the peak at the end of 2014, Chinese exports had hit an astonishing level of 9.8 million tonnes. To put this into perspective, this is more than the combined total that for Belgium and Luxembourg in a whole year.
Compared to China, Japanese steel exports tend to be much steadier over time and was the largest exporter in the world in 2009 and 2010 before it was overtaken by China in 2011. Japanese exports were fairly steady in 2014 when compared to the previous year but it did fall by 3% year on year. Like China, Japan produces most of the steel required within the country so imports are fairly negligible.
Prior to the world economic downturn, South Korea was a net importer of steel. Since 2011, however, the country has changed to being a net exporter. After a decline in exports in 2013, shipments last year increased by 11% to leave the country as the third largest exporter in the world behind just China and Japan. Unlike those other two Asian powerhouses, however, South Korea also has substantial imports which increased by 18% year on year which made it the 3rd largest importer in the world and largest Asian importer of steel.
In addition to China, Japan and South Korea ISSB holds national trade data from the other major steel producing nations in Asia: India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore.
Given our coverage which includes exports by countries producing 99.3% of the steel in Asia and 97% of steel produced globally ISSB are excellently placed to assess the markets for steel in countries, such as Vietnam, where national trade statistics are not readily available.