World steel production: China blows the socks off the rest of the world, US production plunges
China produced 57% of the world’s crude steel, transformed almost everything into finished steel products that it exported or used in domestic manufacturing and construction. The annual steel report is out.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
Global production of crude steel – ingots, semi-finished products (banknotes, blooms, slabs) and liquid cast steel – grew only 0.5% in 2020, reaching 1,878 million metric tonnes (Mt ), according to World Steel. Associations World Steel Report 2021 today. The 0.5% gain came in two installments: China boosted production and gained market share; the rest of the world has lost production and market share.
Since 1995, there have been only three periods of decline in annual crude steel production: the Asian financial crisis in 1998 (-2.7%); the global financial crisis in 2009 (-7.8%); and in 2015 (-3.0%), when China made a short-lived effort to control the deficit overproduction of its steelmakers who are supported and often controlled by various government entities:
But in 2020, China’s crude steel production, despite falling sharply when it locked in earlier this year, rose 6.9%, to 1,064 Mt, accounting for 56.7% of production. global. In 2017, China had for the first time surpassed the rest of the world.
In the rest of the world excluding China, production fell by 6.8% to 813 Mt. China has been able to conquer market share with each crisis. Over the past 20 years, total crude steel production has increased by 120%, and almost all of this gain has gone to China:
In all of the major producing areas, crude steel production plunged in early 2020. But China more than fully recovered a few months later and then exploded from its earlier production levels. The CIS (the group of post-Soviet countries including Russia) also recovered and exceeded pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. But the United States, India, Europe, Japan and many other regions have failed to fully recover. They have all lost market share to China.
In the United States, crude steel production fell 17.2% to 72.7 Mt. In the USMCA zone – the United States, Mexico and Canada – production plunged 15.7% to 100.5 Mt, the lowest in 25 years, for a 5.4% share of global production, while China’s share jumped to 56.7%. In 2001, China’s market share exceeded that of NAFTA for the first time. The trend could not be clearer:
Of the top five producing countries – China, India, Japan, the United States and Russia – only China increased production in 2020.
China’s production was more than 10 times that of No. 2 in India and about 15 times that of No. 4 in the United States. USMCA countries are shown in red. The production quantities of Mexico and Canada are difficult to see without a magnifying glass:
China converts most of its raw steel into finished steel products.
Most of the crude steel produced by China in 2020 was converted at Chinese factories into higher-value finished steel products. These finished steel products were then either used in construction or by manufacturers (to make products for export or Chinese consumption) or exported directly.
While China produced 56.7% of the world’s crude steel, it also produced 56.2% of the world’s finished steel products.
In terms of crude steel, China exported only 51 Mt (4.8% of its production); but it also imported 38 Mt of crude steel, for net exports (exports minus imports) of 13 Mt, a tiny fraction of the 1,065 Mt of crude steel it produced.
The 15 largest crude steel companies in the world in 2019
Nine of the 15 companies that produced the highest amount of crude steel in 2020 are Chinese companies, and six of them are owned or controlled by government entities in China.
Nucor, the only US steelmaker on this list, fell to 15th place, after 14th last year and 12th in 2018:
- China Baowu Steel Group: 115.3 Mt, compared to 95.5 Mt in 2019 and 67.4 Mt in 2018; includes the tonnage of Maanshan Steel and Chongqing Steel – Chinese government property.
- ArcelorMittal: 78.5 Mt, compared to 97.3 Mt in 2019. Includes shares in AM / NS India and China Oriental. Registered in Luxembourg, managed from India.
- Hesteel Group, formerly HBIS Group: 43.8 Mt against 46.6 Mt – owned by the government of Hebei Province, China. Includes Serbia Iron & Steel doo Beograd and MAKSTIL AD in Macedonia
- Shagang Group China: 41.6 Mt, compared to 41.1 Mt in 2019 – private property, China.
- Nippon Steel Corporation: 41.6 Mt, compared to 51.7 Mt; includes Nippon Stainless Steel Corporation, Sanyo Special Steel, Ovako and 40% of AM / NS India and 31% USIMINAS – Japan.
- POSCO: 40.6 Mt, compared to 43.1 Mt in 2019 – South Korea.
- Anshan Iron and Steel Group, or Ansteel Group 38.2 Mt, against 39.2 Mt in 2019 – Chinese government property.
- Jianlong Group: 36.5 Mt against 31.2 Mt in 2019 – private property, China
- Shougang Group: 34 Mt, compared to 29.3 Mt in 2019 – owned by the government of Beijing, China.
- Shandong Steel: 31.1 Mt, compared to 27.6 Mt in 2019 – owned by the government of Shandong Province, China.
- Delong Steel Group: 28.3 Mt, compared to 26.8 Mt in 2019 – private property, China.
- Tata Steel Group: 28.1 Mt, compared to 30.1 Mt in 2019 – India.
- Groupe Valin: 26.8 Mt, compared to 24.3 Mt in 2019 – Chinese state controlled, with a minority stake listed on the stock exchange.
- JFE Holdings: 24.4 Mt, compared to 27.3 Mt – Japan.
- Nucor Corporation: 22.7 Mt, compared to 23.1 Mt in 2019 – United States.
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