CEE becomes processing, Ukraine export hub: Siryk

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is becoming a steel processing hub for Western European countries and a centre for steel exports to Ukraine, Metals Consulting International chief executive Alexander Siryk said at EUROMETAL’s Central Europe regional meeting in Krakow last week. Asian-origin steel is meanwhile gaining CEE market share, especially in the flat and stainless steel segments.

The volume of CEE steel production almost equals the volume of exports, Siryk pointed out at the event attended by Kallanish. On flat products, 865,000 tonnes/month are being exported from CEE in 2023 versus 1.13 million t/m in 2022, with Austria accounting for 40%, Slovakia 24% and Poland 12% this year. Ukraine has accounted for 3% of 2023 flats exports versus 1% in previous years, Siryk showed. Overall exports have however slowed in 2023 due to stagnating European demand.

Around 1m t/m is of steel is meanwhile traded between CEE countries, of which 60% are flats, with Czech Republic and Poland the largest destinations.

CEE imports of steel for processing have grown some 30% since 2010, peaking at 2.1m t/m of imports from non-CEE origins in 2021, with the figure at 1.7m t/m in 2023. Other EU countries account for around 70% of supply, with flats representing over half of supply.

As for imports from Asia, this origin has upped its import share to 10% for flats and 12% for stainless steel in 2023 versus 6% each in 2010. Poland imported 40% of the 875,000 t/m of flats intake in 2023.

CEE crude steel production has been inching down since 2010 amid serious industry restructuring and optimisation, Siryk observed. Liberty has become a major player in the region after acquiring plants from ArcelorMittal, followed by further takeovers. The insolvency of Dunaferr meanwhile poses a question over its future ownership, with Liberty currently managing the steelworks.

The green transition will revolutionise the region’s steel industry, which is 79% based on the blast furnace route, forcing local supply chains to adapt, Siryk concluded.

Adam Smith Poland