Reacting to well-documented financial difficulties afflicting Southeast Asia, the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) has revised its outlook for 1998 world steel consumption downward -- from 700.3 million metric ton to 689.1 million metric ton. In addition, IISI reported that 1997 world steel consumption set a record at 694.5 million metric ton.
In its revised estimates, the Institute predicts that demand in Southeast Asia will fall 2.9% to about 302 million metric ton in 1998. Big drops in demand are expected in both Indonesia and the Philippines due to the financial crisis, and depressed construction and automotive economies in Japan should send demand down by some 4%. On the plus side in this region, demand in Taiwan should grow by 6%, with a 2.8% increase forecast for India. IISI placed demand in China at 104.9 million metric ton.
In other areas of the world, U.S. demand is expected to fall from 111.9 million metric ton to 108.1 million metric ton, due in part to expectations that the machinery and equipment sector will soften. Strong demand in the European Union in 1997 should continue into 1998. Following a 15% increase in demand in 1997, steel consumption in South America is expected to level off in 1998.