As has been well documented by now, demand for a wide variety of materials plunged on the heels of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Among those materials, of course, is steel. Consumer demand for steel-using products declined and construction projects came to a halt.
However, data from the European Steel Association show demand picking back up among EU28 nations this year.
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EU steel demand shows signs of recovery
Earlier this month, the European Steel Association (EUROFER) said apparent steel consumption in the EU28 rose by 3.6% in Q4 2020. In Q1 2021, apparent steel consumption rose by 0.9%.
“Although the general economic recovery in the EU appears to be uneven and exposed to risks, the recovery in steel-using industries and in steel demand should continue through 2021,”EUORFER Director General Axel Eggert said. “This is being driven by the stronger-than-expected recovery of industrial sectors, whose output is recovering the losses experienced during the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, imports from third countries continued to decline into the early part of 2021.
“Data for the first quarter also showed the continued downturn in imports from third countries compared to apparent consumption,” EUROFER reported. “After the record drop (-25.4%) in the third quarter of 2020, imports from third countries dropped – albeit less severely – also in the fourth quarter of 2020, (-5.4%) and in the first quarter of 2021 (-2.5%), that is the ninth consecutive quarterly drop.”
Steel-using sectors see rising output
EUROFER also noted E.U. steel-using sectors posted stronger output toward the end of 2020 and into 2021.
Fourth-quarter output in 2021 remained in the negative (-1.4%), but marked a significant improvement from the 6.8% drop in Q3 2020.
Q1 2021 output grew by 2.6%.
However, improving conditions for the steel sector (and steel-using sectors) remain on fragile ground, particularly amid the rise of Delta variant infections.
“The industry in the EU has recovered the output loss experienced during the pandemic, but activity remains exposed to fragility and risks, due to persistent uncertainty around vaccination plans and ongoing consequences of the pandemic,” EUROFER reported.
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