Global steel output rises in August, but imbalances remain
Mills in China and Turkey outpaced their 2019 output rates in August, but that rebound has not been matched in many other nations.
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Global steel output rises in August, but imbalances remain

Output in U.S., Western Europe remains subdued; Turkey roars back with 22.9 percent growth compared with August 2019.

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September 25, 2020

Global crude steel output in August showed a 0.6 percent increase compared with August 2019, with the return to pre-COVID-19 levels of production largely attributable to mills in China—which produces half of the world’s steel—churning out 8.9 percent more tonnage compared with one year earlier.

Figures gathered and released by the Brussels-based World Steel Association (Worldsteel) also showed Turkey’s steel production for August 2020 was 3.2 million metric tons, up by 22.9 percent compared with August 2019. That surge in electric arc furnace (EAF) output in Turkey helped boost ferrous scrap demand in the United States and other parts of the world.

According to Worldsteel, the 64 countries that report to it produced a combined 156.2 million metric tons in August, a 2.3 percent boost from the July figure of 152.7 million metric tons. The August figure marks a 13.9 percent rebound from the COVID-19 related low point of 137.1 metric tons produced in April.

While the global steel output figure has returned to a prepandemic level, it has not been a balanced rebound. Among those nations at or above their year-ago output figures in August, in addition to China (8.9 percent) and Turkey (22.9 percent), were Brazil (6.5 percent), Iran (14.6 percent) and Vietnam (32.9 percent).

The list of nations with a decline in production this August compared with August 2019 is longer and includes major steel producers such as the United States (-24.4 percent), Germany (-13.4 percent), India (-4.4 percent) and Japan (-20.6 percent) .

Year to date, North American production is down 19 percent compared with last year’s output; the European Union is down 18.6 percent; South America’s output has fallen by 15.6 percent; and the former Soviet Union nations have produced a combined 4.5 percent less steel.

China has produced 22 million metric tons more steel year to date compared with the first eight months of 2019, but six of its neighbors in Asia (India, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan and Thailand) have made about 34.1 million metric tons less steel so far this year.