Coronavirus could accelerate steel trade reduction: Basson

The coronavirus emergency across the world could well accelerate the ongoing regionalisation of markets, Edwin Basson, director general of the association said in a press briefing this week.

The executive noted that the tendency to move away from globalisation was already seen during recent years, but the latest Covid-19 emergency could well accelerate further the need also for steel trade to become more regional and to shorten supply chains.

While worldsteel does not comment specifically on local trade policies, since 2016 a rapid decline of steel international trade has been seen, accelerated further by the imposition of the Section 232 measures in the US. Now this trend seems to have gathered pace again as many countries close further possibilities for international trade to protect their local steelmakers.

According to the latest figures published by worldsteel, steel products international trade in 2019 represented only 25.1% of the total steel production in the world. This share is the lowest since 1980. Back in the 1997-2008 period the share stood steadily above 35%

In volumes terms the 2019 figure of 437 million tonnes traded internationally is the lowest since 2013. Given the expected steel demand reduction for 2020, the traded volumes globally should lower further this year, Kallanish notes.