Business news from Ukraine

Global steel demand to grow by 1.7% in 2024 – Worldsteel

10 April , 2024  

Global steel demand will increase by 1.7% to 1.793 billion tons in 2024 and by another 1.2% to 1.815 billion tons in 2025, the World Steel Association predicts.

Martin Theuringer, Chairman of the Worldsteel Economic Committee, noted in his commentary that after two years of negative growth and severe market volatility following the COVID crisis in 2020, there are first signs of stabilization of global steel demand on a growth trajectory in 2024 and 2025.

According to him, the global economy continues to demonstrate resilience despite several strong headwinds, the lingering impact of the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, high inflation, high costs and falling household purchasing power, growing geopolitical uncertainty and sharp monetary tightening.

“As we approach the end of the monetary tightening cycle, we have seen that tighter credit conditions and higher costs have led to a sharp slowdown in housing activity in most major markets and weighed on the manufacturing sector globally. While it appears that the global economy will experience a soft landing after this cycle of monetary tightening, we expect global steel demand growth to remain weak and market volatility to remain high due to the lagged effects of monetary tightening, high costs and high geopolitical uncertainty,” the head of the economic committee said.

China’s steel demand in 2024 is expected to remain roughly at the level of 2023 as real estate investment continues to decline, but the corresponding loss in steel demand will be offset by an increase in steel demand driven by infrastructure investment and manufacturing sectors. In 2025, steel demand in China will return to a downward trend with a 1% decline.

This forecast implies that by 2025, China’s steel demand will be significantly lower than in the recent peak year of 2020. This forecast is also in line with Worldsteel’s view that China may have reached its peak steel demand and that steel demand in the country is likely to continue to be strong in the medium term as China gradually moves away from an economic development model dependent on real estate and infrastructure investment.

Worldsteel’s forecasts for the world, excluding China, assume broad-based growth in steel demand at a relatively high 3.5% per year in 2024-2025.

It also states that India has become the strongest driver of steel demand growth since 2021, and the forecast shows that steel demand in India will continue to grow rapidly, with steel demand in the country growing by 8% in 2024 and 2025, driven by growth in all steel-using sectors and especially by continued strong growth in infrastructure investment. India’s steel demand is projected to be almost 70 million tons higher in 2025 than in 2020.

In other emerging economies such as the Middle East, Africa and ASEAN, steel demand is expected to grow in 2024-2025 after a significant slowdown in 2022-2023. However, growing challenges in ASEAN, such as political instability and declining competitiveness, may lead to a slowdown in steel demand growth in the future.

The developed world is also expected to see a stronger recovery: 1.3% in 2024 and 2.7% in 2025, as Worldsteel expects steel demand to finally show strong growth in the EU in 2025 and remain resilient in the US, Japan and Korea.

According to the forecast, the EU (and the UK) remain the region currently facing the biggest challenges. The region, and in particular its steel-using industries, is facing challenges on multiple fronts: geopolitical shifts and uncertainty, high inflation, monetary tightening and partial withdrawal of fiscal support, and still high energy and commodity prices. The persistence of these negative factors has led to a significant drop in steel demand in the region in 2023 to the lowest level since 2000 and a significant downward revision of the forecast for this year. After only a technical recovery in 2024, steel demand in the region is expected to finally show a significant recovery with growth of 5.3% in 2025. Projected steel demand in the EU in 2024 is only 1.5 million tons higher than during the 2020 pandemic.

In contrast to the EU, US steel demand continues to demonstrate healthy steel demand fundamentals. The country’s steel demand is expected to quickly return to growth in 2024 after a sharp drop caused by the housing market slowdown in 2023, thanks to strong investment activity, boosted by the inflation reduction law, and a gradual recovery in housing activity.

Worldsteel believes that risks have decreased since its last forecast update in October 2023 and are balanced. On the other hand, the Association believes that faster-than-expected disinflation, accompanied by further monetary policy easing, could provide a significant boost to steel-using sectors, especially residential construction. Worldsteel also believes that accelerating global decarbonization efforts or efforts to strengthen public infrastructure to combat the growing risks of climate change are significant positive risks that could support global steel demand going forward.

“However, we observe that further escalation of geopolitical tensions, inflationary pressures proving more resilient than expected, and high and rising public debt levels driving fiscal consolidation in major economies pose significant risks that could certainly slow or even derail the ongoing economic recovery,” the forecast concludes.