The steel industry is an important sector of the economy in many countries. The steel market for many other sectors is also a key element of the industrial production process – for example, in the automotive, construction, and electronic industries.
Steel production is primarily an alloy of iron ore and coal. In the macroeconomic aspect, the prices of steel alloy are one of the indicators for assessing the economy’s condition and estimating the economic forecasts. Due to a decrease or increase in its prices on the microeconomic scale, they contribute to various consumption decisions. Thus, the analysis of changes in the steel market allows for understanding the environment in the scale of the raw materials and industrial sectors and from a broader perspective. In turn, it allows us to react in time to the changing economic situation.
The steel market in numbers
The production of crude steel is growing every year. And according to the World Steel Association, steel production continues to grow. In 2019, there were produced 1,875,155 tons of steel (1.87 trillion tons) worldwide. The main producers of this raw material are Asian countries, including China (996.3 million tons), India (111.2 million tons) and Japan (99.2 million tons), as well as the United States (87.8 million tons), and in Europe – Germany (39.6 million tons) and Italy (23.1 million tons). In 2019, Poland was ranked 19th, producing almost 8.9 million tons of crude steel.
Employment in the steel market
The steel industry in the European Union has over 500 production plants operating in 23 countries of the European Union. EU is the second-largest steel producer in the world. Direct employment in the steel industry in the EU is over 330,000 employees, while people working both directly in the steel industry and indirectly account for 2.6 million people employed in the entire EU (211,703.3 economically active people in the EU). In Poland, 24,700,000 people work directly in the steel industry.
Producers in the steel market
The main producers of crude steel in Europe are: Accelor Mittal, Tata Steel, Thyssenkrupp, Voestalpine, Riva. It is worth noting that as a result of the consolidation in Europe, i.e. Mittal / Arcelor (2006), SSAB / Rautaruukki (2014) and the creation of Libera Steel Group (2018), the steel industry has become more concentrated and competitive with industries that use steel materials for production of their products.
Trends in the steel market
The defrosting of economies because of the improving epidemiological situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the factors for an increase in demand for raw materials, thus increasing their prices. At the same time, due to the climate challenges and the implementation of measures towards a clean planet, the steel market becomes a major issue in the context of the transformation of a competitive, modern, and green industry. Therefore, in May 2021, the European Commission issued a document on increasing the competitiveness and environmentally friendly European steel, which contains information on funds, programs, and legal acts supporting the competitiveness and climate neutrality of the steel industry.
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W kierunku konkurencyjnej i zielonej europejskiej stali – Komunikat Komisji do Parlamentu Europejskiego, Rady, Europejskiego Komitetu Ekonomiczno-Społecznego i Komitetu Regionów (Towards a competitive and green European steel – Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions).
Plan działania na rzecz konkurencyjnego i zrównoważonego przemysłu stalowego w Europie – Komunikat Komisji do Parlamentu Europejskiego, Rady, Europejskiego Komitetu Ekonomiczno-Społecznego i Komitetu Regionów (An action plan for a competitive and sustainable steel industry in Europe – Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions).
Rocznik Statystyki Międzynarodowej 2020 (Yearbook of International Statistics 2020), Główny Urząd Statystyczny (Statistics Poland), World Steel Association.
Steel Market Developments Q4 2020, OECD.