Global crude steel production increased 4.1% in February compared with February 2018 production, according to the World Steel Association’s monthly production report.
China’s Steel Production Growth Continues
Global production hit 137.3 million tons in February, down from 150.3 million tons in January. February 2018 production reached 131.9 million tons.
In Asia, China’s crude steel production for February 2019 hit 71.0 million tons, up 9.2% year over year (China’s steel production growth also hit 9.2% the previous month). India produced 8.7 million tons, marking a 2.3% year-over-year increase.
Japan’s production reached 7.7 million tons, which marked a 6.6% year-over-year decline. Earlier this month, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Japan’s economic index slipped for the third consecutive month, fueling concerns the country may be headed for a recession (or may already be in one).
South Korea’s crude steel production, meanwhile, rose 1.1% to 5.5 million tons.
U.S. Steel Production Up 4.6%
U.S. production continues to chug along, reaching 6.9 million tons in February, up 4.6% from the same month in 2018. As reported earlier this week, a legal challenge from the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS) of the constitutionality of the president’s Section 232 powers was struck down by the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT).
Also of note, earlier this week — March 23 — marked the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. Since imposition of the duties, the U.S. steel sector has eclipsed the targeted 80% capacity utilization mark (identified as a goal of the Department of Commerce for both the domestic steel and aluminum sectors).
Despite the CIT ruling, the AIIS said it will appeal. In addition, a bipartisan bill addressing the authority over Section 232 is likely coming down the pipeline, as indicated by a release by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
“The U.S. Constitution gives Congress alone the job of regulating commerce with foreign nations,” Grassley said in a prepared statement. “During the height of the Cold War, Congress delegated sweeping power to the executive branch to adjust imports on the basis of national security. That was understandable given the era, but the benefit of time and experience has proven our Founders right in tasking Congress with authority over tariffs.
“Congress should take back some of this delegation of its Constitutional authority and rebalance trade powers between the two branches in a responsible way that doesn’t impede a president’s ability to protect America’s national security. I would like to work with the Ranking Member and my colleagues to find a path forward that can receive broad, bipartisan support.”
Around the World
Elsewhere, Italy’s crude steel production fell 2.7% to 2.0 million tons, while France produced 1.2 million tons of crude steel (down 0.3%) compared to February 2018. Spain’s production rose 2.5% to 1.1 million tons.
Ukraine’s production rose 5.0% to 1.7 million tons, while Brazil’s fell 1.7% to 2.7 million tons.
Turkey’s steel sector continues to struggle, as it remains subject to double the standard Section 232 steel duty and is also impacted by the E.U.’s recently approved steel safeguards. Turkey’s crude steel production fell 12.5% in February, down to 2.6 million tons.