Worldwide crude stainless steel production, in 2018, reached an all-time high total of more than 50.7 million tonnes. This represents an increase of 5.5 percent, compared with the year earlier figure. MEPS predicts that global output will grow by approximately 4 percent, in 2019, to achieve a new record high mark of around 52.7 million tonnes.
In the United States, the effects of tariffs and quotas, arising from the Section 232 action, began to subside, last year. More competitive import offers became available, while growth in domestic demand slowed. Consequently, a moderate increase in output, of around 2 percent, was registered, in 2018. MEPS forecasts a similar scale of expansion, this year.
Last year, the authorities in the European Union introduced safeguarding measures, to prevent third country material from being diverted from US customers to the EU market. Nevertheless, many import offers remained attractive. Furthermore, consumption, in the region, showed little sign of growth. Total crude stainless steel production was, therefore, broadly unchanged, year-on-year. MEPS foresees a similar outturn, in 2019.
Japanese producers returned a healthy increase in output, of more than 3.5 percent, in 2018. However, due to subdued demand, competitive pricing, and excess production capacity, in the Far East region, no further expansion is predicted, this year.
Minimal production growth was reported in South Korea, last year. A reasonable upturn, of more than 2 percent, year-on-year, is forecast for 2019.
In the face of fierce competition, in the region, output from Taiwanese stainless steelmakers slumped, in 2018, by almost 15 percent, compared with the previous year. Total annual production is expected to be unchanged, this year.
Indian crude stainless steel output continued to grow, strongly. An increase of more than 7 percent, year-on-year, was recorded, in 2018. Further, healthy expansion, of over 5 percent, is forecast for the current year.
After several years of phenomenal advancement, Chinese production is, now, in a more mature phase of development. Steady growth, at around 3.5 percent, was reported, last year, and a similar increase in outturn is predicted, for 2019.
Source: MEPS Stainless Steel Review Keynote – April 2019