China Drives Steel Boom but U.S., EU Markets Slow

Chinas production up 18.1%, EU up 1.3%, U.S. down by 3%

The world steel market is zipping along for the sixth year running driven mainly by China but could slow down next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD) said on Dec. 5.

Chinese steel production shot up 18.1% in the first 10 months of the year to account for 37% of world output. "Chinese production had risen by 18.1% in the first 10 months compared with the equivalent figure last year. This equated to 409 million tons and Chinese output was "growing faster than domestic demand."

Japanese production was running at the highest level since the early 1970s and output in South Korea and Taiwan had also increased.

Production in India continued to grow quickly. Revised data showed that India was the fifth-biggest producer in the world in 2006. This year it might have become a net importer.

Production in the EU was slowing down and internal demand was being met increasingly by imports. In the first ten months, EU output rose by 1.3% or 2.3 million tons to 176 million tons. However, the European market overall was experiencing another strong year in 2007. Consumption in the first six months had risen by 7.1% on a 12-month basis.

Output in the U.S. was falling on weakness in the auto and housing sectors. Inventories had been swelled by imported steel. In the first 10 months, U.S. producers had cut output by 3% to 81.6 million tons.

Production in South America was growing, boosted by increased production in Brazil, the biggest regional producer, to 27.9 million tons.

Production in the Middle East was growing strongly, "reflecting vibrant demand as the region's economies grow."

In the first 10 months output in Iran was 8.3 million tons, in Egypt 5.2 million tons and in Saudi Arabia 3.8 million tons.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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