Turkey extends lead in seaborne scrap market

Turkey extended its lead significantly in 2020 over second- and third-largest scrap importers India and South Korea, both of which saw intake decline versus 2019.

Turkish scrap imports surged 19% on-year in 2020 to 22.48 million tonnes, according to Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) data (see Kallanish passim).

Turkish crude steel output last year rose 6% on-year to 35.76mt, to support a 13% rise in finished steel consumption to 29.4mt, although imports also increased their share in steel use. Turkish steel demand started 2020 strongly before being curbed severely in the second quarter due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, it recovered impressively in the second half of the year.

Electric arc furnace-based crude steel output grew much faster than oxygen converter output in 2020, by 8.3% to 24.78mt, supporting scrap imports.

Indian scrap imports meanwhile fell 22% in 2020 to 5.48mt, following their 11% growth in 2019, according to Indian commerce ministry data. They thus fell back to 2017 levels.

Indian crude steel output dropped 11% last year to 99.57mt, as demand in India was slashed by Covid-19-related restrictions in Q2 and has been slower-than-expected to rebound thereafter. According to the latest Joint Plant Committee data, Indian finished steel consumption in April-December 2020 fell 15% to 64.61mt. Production was to a large extent propped up by exports of hot rolled coil and billet in Q2 and Q3, especially to China.

South Korean scrap imports fell 32% in 2020 to 4.39mt, according to South Korea Customs data. This was a disproportionate drop compared to crude steel output which fell only 6% to 67.12mt, as EAF mills carried out stoppages due to weak demand.

The main beneficiary from Turkey’s growth in seaborne scrap procurement in 2020 was top supplier US, which upped its supply by 13% to 4.35mt. This was followed by the Netherlands and Russia which supplied 23% and 20% more respectively at 3.13mt and 2.26mt.