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Stainless Steel Press Release

World stainless steel demand and output near double-digit growth in 2016 - WBMS

Having dipped in 2015 global consumption and production of stainless steel jumped by around 9% and 10% respectively in 2016 as the latest data from the World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS) shows.

As the stainless steel industry emerged from a prolonged destocking cycle, top consumer China was largely responsible for the strong growth in 2016 which took total demand to 35.153 million tonnes. (Production of stainless steel is reported as slab output whilst consumption is measured on a product basis. A yield factor is applied to the production data and this is added to the net imports to calculate apparent demand).

The Annual Stainless Steel Report, the industry standard, was released by the WBMS this week and shows that Chinese consumption surged by 14.2% to 16.3 million tonnes in 2016 and accounted for 46% of the world total.

Offtake in India, the second biggest individual consuming nation (having overtaken the United States in 2015), grew by 7.6% to close to 2.4 million tonnes. Japan was another strong performer almost erasing the previous year’s contraction, with South Korea’s rise more modest at 3.3%.

Meanwhile, growth in the United States more or less stagnated while Europe posted a 4% increase, aided by notable rises in Germany and Italy.

The report, which covers trade extensively from slabs, blooms and billets through cold rolled sheet of varying thickness to welded tubes and pipes shows that exports of all stainless steel products grew almost 6% last year. This followed a 2.3% decline the previous year.

China was the dominant exporter in many forms in 2016 accounting for, among others, 43% of slabs, 32% of hot rolled coils and 29% of seamless tubes. In cold roll sheet and strip China was also the largest exporter but accounted for a more modest 15% or 1.334 million tonnes with Taiwan its closest rival at 784,000 tonnes.

According to WBMS data global stainless steel production rose by close to 10% in 2016 to 45.814 million tonnes. The lengthy available history on a country-by-country basis in this report also illustrates how output, driven by China, has grown by 60% over the last ten years and almost trebled since 1997.

The Annual Stainless Steel Report is available at a cost of £950

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Maureen Fountain