Global steel demand will grow by 5.8% in 2021 to reach 1,874.0 million tonnes (Mt), after declining by 0.2% in 2020, worldsteel forecast in its latest short range outlook on Thursday, adding that in 2022 steel demand will see further growth of 2.7% to reach 1,924.6 Mt.
The current forecast assumes that the ongoing second or third waves of infections will stabilise in the second quarter and that steady progress on vaccinations will be made, allowing a gradual return to normality in major steel-using countries, it said in a statement.
Despite the disastrous impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods, the global steel industry was fortunate enough to end 2020 with only a minor contraction in steel demand, said Al Remeithi, Chairman of the worldsteel Economics Committee.
“This was due to a surprisingly robust recovery in China, with growth of 9.1%. In the rest of the world steel demand contracted by 10.0%. In the coming years, steel demand will recover firmly, both in the developed and developing economies, supported by pent-up demand and governments’ recovery programmes,” he added.
However, for most developed economies a return to the pre-pandemic levels of steel demand will take a few years.
While it is hoped that the worst of the pandemic is passing, there is still considerable uncertainty for the rest of 2021, Al Remeithi said, adding that the evolution of the virus and progress of vaccinations, withdrawal of supportive fiscal and monetary policies, geopolitics and trade tensions could all affect the recovery envisaged in this forecast.
“For the future, structural changes in a post-pandemic world will bring about shifts in steel demand shape. The steel industry will see exciting opportunities from rapid developments through digitisation and automation, infrastructure initiatives, reorganisation of urban centres, and energy transformation,” he added.
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