It was an expected development — so when it was announced, it did not come as much of a surprise to many in the steel sector in India (or even globally).
An updated World Steel Association analysis of crude steel outputs by the steel-producing nations has shown that India bypassed Japan as the world’s second-largest steel producing country. India’s neighbor China continues to be the largest producer of crude steel, accounting for more than 51% of global production.
While world crude steel production went up 4.6% in 2018, touching 1,808.6 million tons (MT) in 2018 from 1,729.8 MT in 2017, China’s crude steel output went up 6.6% to 928.3 million tons in 2018 (from 870.9 MT in 2017).
India’s crude steel production in 2018 reached 106.5 MT, up by 4.9% from 101.5 MT in 2017.
Japan produced 104.3 million MT in 2018, down 0.3% from 2017. The European Union produced 168.1 million MT of crude steel, down 0.3%.
Others in the top 10 steel-producing countries included the U.S. at No. 4, having produced 86.7 MT of crude steel, and South Korea at fifth place with 72.5 MT.
India’s steel story has been on the positive path for a couple of years now, thanks to the country’s rapid infrastructure growth, requiring materials like steel, coal and cement. India’s steel minister recently told a meeting that the country was expected to pass the U.S. in steel consumption this year.
Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, while addressing the fourth edition of India Steel 2019, pointed out that the trend in steel consumption in India was on the upswing because of the strong manufacturing sector, diversified demand demographics and accelerated expenditure on infrastructure, among other factors.
The World Steel Association seems to agree with this view.
In its report, it has forecast a steady demand for crude steel in China, while it expects demand in India to grow.
Steel experts concur that unlike China, where almost the entire steel growth story is propelled by infrastructure, the steel consumption in India will be driven by the twin engines of infrastructure as and the needs of its growing population.
India’s use of steel has grown phenomenally in recent years to above 66 kg per person. The government’s goal is to bring it as close as possible to the global average of more than 200 kg per person.