London — Global finished steel demand will grow by 1.8% to more than 1.616 billion mt in 2018 and increase by another 0.7% to nearly 1.627 billion mt in 2019, the World Steel Association said Tuesday.
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Delivering the Brussels-based organization's short-range outlook during a media briefing in London, worldsteel's director general Edwin Basson said the growth expected this year and next is spread fairly evenly.
"For the first time in a number of quarters we now see strong growth in both developing and developed economies," Basson said. "The exception to the rule is China."
World production and consumption leader China will see flat demand this year, followed by a 2% decline in 2019.
Steel demand for China will be roughly 736.8 million mt this year and 722.1 million mt next year, according to worldsteel.
Basson said that after years of continuous steel demand growth, it was expected China would reach a peak and begin to see some decline, as it transitions from an investment-driven to consumption-driven economy.
Africa will likely see the biggest reversal of fortune this year, swinging from a 6.8% demand decline in 2017 to growth of 4.5% this year and another 4.6% next year, when demand will total 36.6 million mt and 38.3 million mt respectively, according to worldsteel.
Central and South America are likely to realize 6.2% growth this year to 43.5 million mt and 4.9% growth to 45.6 million mt in 2019 -- a significant turnaround from 2016 when the region saw a 13.6% decline.
Similarly, the CIS region is expected to see continued positive growth of 2.3% and 1.8% in 2018 and 2019, after a contraction just a few years ago. Its demand will total 54 million mt this year and 55 million mt next year, according to worldsteel.
India, which is expected to realize year-on-year growth of around 5.5% in 2018 and 6% in 2019, when demand will hit 97.5 million mt, could overtake the US for the No.2 spot in terms of global steel demand leaders "in another year or so," Basson said.
Europe will experience small year-on-year increases in growth, with the European Union 28 countries' collective demand to rise 2% this year to 165.6 million mt and 0.8% next year to 166.9 million mt.
The NAFTA region should realize a 3% increase in 2018 and another 1.6% rise in 2019, worldsteel said, translating into demand of 145 million mt and 147.3 million mt respectively.
Looking to the future, Basson said worldsteel expects overall global steel demand to rise from its current 1.6 billion mt to around 1.8 billion-1.83 billion mt over the next 20 years.