May global crude steel production drops 8.7% year over year

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Although demand and overall economic activity in China has begun to recover in recent weeks, overall global steel production in May remained down compared with May 2019 levels.

According to data reported by the World Steel Association, global crude steel production totaled an estimated 148.8 million tons in May, down 8.7% from May 2019.

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Top steel producer China churned out 92.3 million tons of steel in May, marking a 4.2% year-over-year increase after a 0.2% increase in April.

As for other major Asian steel producers, Japan produced 5.9 million tons of crude steel in May 2020, down 31.8% from May 2019. India’s production fell 39.1% to 5.8 million tons, while South Korea’s steel production fell 14.1% to 5.4 million tons.

E.U. production fell 26.8% down to 10.5 million tons. Earlier this month, the European Steel Association (EUROFER) criticized the E.U.’s approach to its steel safeguard program.

“The European steel industry’s survival is at further, serious risk because the Commission’s steel safeguard review proposal does not consider the sharp collapse in demand following the COVID pandemic,” EUROFER said in a release. “The tariff-free quota should reflect EU steel demand. The European steel sector is deeply disappointed that the Commission and many EU governments have not yet decided to consider this.

“Steel demand has fallen by 50% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Our industry has had to cut production sharply to adapt to these changed circumstances, with 40% of the EU steel workforce laid-off or having to work part-time.”

U.S. production fell 36.6% to 4.8 million tons. U.S. production for the year through June 20 totaled 37.9 million tons, down 18.4% year over year, per the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Capacity utilization for the period in 2020 was 67.5%, down from 81.2% the previous year.

Production in the Commonwealth of Independent States fell 7.6% to 8.2 million tons in May 2020, down 7.6% on May 2019. Ukraine’s production fell 10.4% to 1.6 million tons, while Turkey’s fell 25.8% to 2.3 million tons.

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Brazil, which has the second-most coronavirus cases of any country in the world, produced 2.2 million tons, down by 22.6% from May 2019.

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