Worldwide crude stainless steel production, in 2017, reached an all-time high total of nearly 48.1 million tonnes. This represents an increase of 5 percent, compared with the year earlier figure. MEPS predicts that global output will grow by a further 5 percent, in 2018, to achieve a new record high mark of around 50.5 million tonnes.
The introduction of tariffs or quotas, arising from the United States’ Section 232 action, is likely to alter the patterns of trade between the major stainless steel producing countries. Output in the United States grew by a healthy 11 percent, year-on-year, in 2017. We forecast more moderate expansion, this year.
South Korea & Taiwan
Production in South Korea and Taiwan continued its recovery, having slumped, following the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/9. Output increased by 6 percent, last year, in South Korea, to total 2.4 million tonnes. In Taiwan, production grew by nearly 9 percent, compared with the year earlier figure, to reach almost 1.4 million tonnes. Both countries are expected to record increases of around 4 percent, year-on-year, in 2018.
EU & Japan
Growth is more moderate, in the traditional stainless steelmaking centres of Japan and the European Union. Production increased at a modest pace in both markets, in 2017. Expansion is predicted to continue at a similar rate, in both places, this year.
In China, the annual growth rate in stainless steel supply slowed, to 4.7 percent, in 2017, after years of rapidly increasing output. Nevertheless, at 25.8 million tonnes, the country produced over 53 percent of the world’s crude stainless steel, last year. A further increment, of around 4 percent, year-on-year, is forecast for 2018.
Stainless steel production continues to climb most steeply in the “Others” category. India is becoming a major part of the global supply chain, while a new facility in Indonesia, commissioned last year, will also contribute significant tonnages, in the future.
Source: MEPS Stainless Steel Review