Some key facts & outlook about the EU quarto plate market
In 2018, EU market supply in quarto plates decreased by -2,4 %, where supplies by EU mills lost -0,7 % and supplies by non-EU imports dropped significantly by -7,4 %, each time compared with the year 2017.
On the other hand, EU mills lost positions on export markets where exports by EU mills dropped by -10,6 %.
Regarding the supply side of the EU quarto plate market, it was noted that EU remedies regarding ILVA acquisition by ARCELORMITTAL will remix the supply structure of the EU market, with a rising importance of Liberty House.
With a fragmented structure of main 16 producers in EU, some conference participants were of opinion that more consolidation of the EU quarto plate production might be at the front door of the market.
Regarding end use segments of plates, it was highlighted that EU shipyards have full order books, that wind tower sector is developing as well as civil engineering.
These sectors are presently boosting plate demand.
On the other side, the end use sector of large welded pipe producers is a highly volatile element in the demand structure for plates. Presently there are no big pipe projects in perspective for the next 18 months, which may induce premium producers to turn to spot offers for commercial applications as pipe projects will be missing.
Regarding definitive safeguard measures now decided by EU Commission, participating producers considered that the allocated import quotas for quarto plates are definitively too high, considering past import levels from non-EU origins but also considering that EU plate consumption might stall for another year during 2019.
Despite a drop of EU plate production by -3,7 % in 2018, due to missing export volumes, producers present at the conference were of opinion that capacity use was still at the high side with more than 80 % and that the outlook remains satisfactory.
A representative of the US plate market did also confirm that there is a capacity boom in the North American plate market which might later push older and less efficient capacities out of the market when the plate market cycle turns down again.
60 participants attended the Steel Plate Europe Conference convened by Metal Expert.