ISSB maintains a detailed database of the imports and exports of steel and steelmaking raw materials for more than 60 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.
Global Crude Steel Production
In 2015 global output dropped to 1,621 million tonnes, a 3% decline when compared to the previous year. This reduction was been evident across all major steel producing countries with the exception of India where output increased 3% year on year. China saw production fall by 2% but more significant reductions were reported in other regions with Ukrainian production down by 15%, US output 11% lower and Turkey activity 7% lower.
World Steel Association crude steel production trends are summarised below.
Global Trade in Steel
Exporters China, by far the largest global exporter of steel, further consolidated its position in 2015 with an incredible 21% growth reflecting only a modest decline in production despite further falls in domestic demand. Elsewhere large reductions in exports have been seen in shipments from the EU, with Turkey and Taiwan also struggling. In contrast Russian exports increased by 6% suggesting that they may have taken share from Ukraine which saw exports fall by 18% attributable to continued political unrest in the country.
As a result of a 19% growth in shipments to the region, the EU is now the largest importer of steel in the world. The US, which has traditionally been a main importer, saw shipments to the country crash by 13% in response to the strengthening of trade barriers designed to protect domestic industry. Elsewhere, Turkey and India both experienced huge increases in imports with Turkish EAF producers finding it difficult to compete with global BOS producers. The increase in imports seen in India was prompted by the growth in domestic demand.
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Global Trade in Steelmaking Raw Materials
Global Trade in Iron Ore Iron ore exports continue to be dominated by Australia and Brazil and it is interesting to note that despite the reduction in global crude steel production, global exports of iron ore have increased by 2% year on year. This development was partly due to Chinese steelmakers finding it cheaper to import high grade ore from these countries than rely on lower grade domestically produced ore.
This year has also seen a move away from smaller producers towards Australia and Brazil as the larger, more efficient mines in these countries gain market share at the expense of the smaller, higher cost, producers.
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Global Trade in Scrap In contrast to the iron ore trade, total world exports of scrap declined moderately year on year with the largest two importers both showing falls when compared to 2013. There were some increases from various EU countries as the industry picked up slightly there with Italy, Spain and Belgium all showing rises. Chinese scrap imports fell considerably, however, and their place in the top 11 importers was taken by Vietnam.