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Stainless Steel World News - WBMS Stats Corner September 2020

Asia Leads in Stainless Production and Consumption

After Stainless Steel World News` annual summer break we are back with an early preview of our `Stats Corner` for their September edition.

We have recently published the Annual Stainless Steel Statistics 2020. The report contains detailed production, trade and use time series for over 100 countries for the last 20 years. This publication started in the 1980s and country production data is available separately back to back to 1950. The article refers to charts which show the data by region for production and use in 2019 and 2018. To access these charts follow the link below.

Chart 1 shows slab production by region. Global slab production was just over 54 Mt, another record. The dominance of Asia has continued to grow with Asia now accounting for 80% of the total.

Europe, which has three high volume producers, accounted for only 13%, a far cry from when Europe was a major player. Belgium, Italy, Finland, Spain and Sweden account for most of European slab production. In North America, which in fact is only the USA, slab production was 5%. The rest of the world accounted for the remaining 2%.

Within Asia, China accounted for around 70%, India 10% and the rest mainly in Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Chart 2 shows the year on year change by region. Overall, global slab production increased by around 3% in 2019, with great variation by region.

In a nutshell Asia won and everyone else lost. Asia increased by 6% to 42 Mt. China increased by around 10%, India and Indonesia by around 5% and declines in Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan.

European slab production fell 8%. The pain seems to have been evenly spread among the five main producing countries except in Finland where the fall was 15%. In the USA the decrease was 8%, in line with Europe.

Chart 3 shows stainless use by region in 2019. The tonnage numbers are smaller reflecting the rolling losses to convert slabs and billets to flat and long products.

Asia, and especially China, has become dominant in fabrication and as a producer of final products. So use in Asia is now almost three quarters of global use. China totally dominates use in Asia, accounting for over two thirds. India accounts for 10%, Japan 6%, S. Korea 4% and the balance spread over a number of countries.

Europe accounts for 17%. Main centres of use are: Germany, Italy and France accounting for 50% of Europe collectively. The USA accounted for 90% of N. America.

Chart 4 Looking at the year on year change in use is a similar story to production Asia won, Europe was flat and the rest declined. There is a slight qualification in that we are measuring apparent use and there will have been inventory change so it may include inventory building.

Use in Asia increased by 10%. There was variation among the top four markets: China +13%, India +20%, S.Korea +2% and Japan -6%.

In Europe, Italy was unchanged, Germany and France saw a decline of 5% and others including Spain saw increases. Overall no significant change for Europe.

There is more to tell on this story and in future editions we will look at long term change and trade.