Czech steel association releases figures showing 2020 production decline

Czech crude steel production dropped by 2.6% in 2020 to 4.3 million mt from 4.6 million mt a year earlier, the Czech Steel Union, representing the country’s biggest producers, said in a statement March 9.

Production of long products fell slightly in 2020 to total 2.9 million mt, while flat products increased to 1.1 million mt, with steel tubes accounting for the rest of production last year, the association said. Comparable product figures for 2019 were not given.

The Steel Union said demand, especially in Europe, and prices recovered strongly in the second half of the year after production fell by around 25% in the spring of 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of many factories.

Steel imports into the Czech Republic fell back slightly to 6.6 million mt in 2020 from 7.0 million mt a year earlier, the association added. Steel imports from Turkey rose in spite of protective measures taken by the EU. Russian steel imports held steady, and there was a significant fall in exports from China, said Steel Union board chairman and managing director of Vitkovice Steel Dmitrij Scuka.

Czech steel exports in 2020 – two-thirds of which were directed to neighboring EU countries – totaled 4.4 million mt, roughly unchanged from 2019 levels. The value of steel exports dropped slightly last year to Koruna 89 billion ($4.03 billion) from Koruna 96.8 billion in 2019, the association added. “There was a significant fall in exports to the United States due to [Donald] Trump’s duties,” Scuka added, referring to the import duties on imports of EU steel imposed by the former US president from June 1, 2018.

The Czech Steel Union said the outlook for 2021 is difficult to predict because of the ongoing pandemic and difficulty forecasting whether current high prices for raw steel and steel products will continue even as raw material prices have climbed on par with finished steel prices.

The Steel Union is made up of large producers like Liberty Ostrava, part of the multinational Liberty Steel group, Vitkovice Steel, and Trinec Zelezarny.

— Chris Johnstone