Global steel demand is expected to return to its pre-pandemic level this year except for China

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The World Steel Association’s (worldsteel) Economic Committee, led by Engineer Saeed Ghumran Al Remeithi, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Steel and Chairman of the worldsteel Economic Committee, has released today its Short-Range Outlook (SRO), during its bi-annual meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

According to the report, worldsteel projects global steel demand will grow by 4.5% in 2021 and reach 1,855.4 Mt after 0.1% growth in 2020. In 2022, steel demand will see a further increase of 2.2% to 1,896.4 Mt. The forecast assumes that, with the progress of vaccinations across the world, the spread of variants of the Coronavirus will be less damaging and disruptive than seen in previous waves.

Commenting on the outlook, Eng. Al Remeithi said: “2021 has seen a stronger than expected recovery in steel demand, leading to upward revisions in our forecast across the board except for China. Due to this vigorous recovery, global steel demand outside China is expected to return earlier than expected to its pre-pandemic level this year.”

“Strong manufacturing activity bolstered by pent-up demand is the main contributor. The developed economies have outperformed our earlier expectations by a larger margin than the developing economies, reflecting the positive benefit of higher vaccination rates and government support measures. In the emerging economies, especially in Asia, the recovery momentum was interrupted by the resurgence of infections,” added Al Remeithi.

“While the manufacturing sector’s recovery remained more resilient to the new waves of infection than expected, supply-side constraints led to a levelling off of the recovery in the second half of the year and are preventing a stronger recovery in 2021. But with high backlog orders combined with a rebuilding of inventories and further progress in vaccinations in developing countries, we expect steel demand will continue to recover in 2022,” added Al Remeithi.

“Steel demand recovery in the GCC fell short of expectations on the back of reduced construction activity due to fiscal consolidation efforts. However, in 2022, with rising oil prices and the pandemic under control, steel demand is expected to rebound more strongly. Egypt’s steel demand was negatively affected by the suspension of construction licenses in overcrowded urban areas. However, the government’s other mega projects have cushioned the pandemic’s impact and have supported recovery in 2021,” concluded Al Remeithi.

Global steel demand trends and highlights for 2021 and 2022


There have been marked signs of deceleration in the steel using sector’s activity since July, leading to a steel demand contraction of -13.3% in July and then -18.3% in August. The sharp deceleration is attributable to the slowing momentum in the real estate sector and the government cap on steel production. Real estate activity has weakened due to tough government measures on developers’ financing introduced in 2020. Chinese steel demand will have negative growth for the rest of 2021. As a result, overall steel demand is expected to decline by -1.0% in 2021. No growth in steel demand is expected in 2022.

United Stated of America:

Steel demand was aided in the US by the strong performance of the automotive and durable goods sectors, but shortage of some components is undermining this recovery. The momentum in the construction sector is weakening with the end of a residential construction boom and sluggish non-residential sector activities. The recovery in oil prices is supporting a recovery in energy sector investment. There could be more upside potential if President Biden’s infrastructure stimulus programme is enacted, but this would not feed through until late 2022.

European Union:

the recovery in steel demand in the EU that started in the second half of 2020 is gathering pace, with all steel-using sectors exhibiting a positive recovery despite continuing waves of infection.

Japan and South Korea:

In Japan, steel demand is recovering gradually with increasing exports, investment and consumption. Manufacturing, especially automotive and machinery, is leading the recovery. In 2022, recoveries in consumption and investment are expected to support positive growth in all steel using sectors

South Korea is expected to see its steel demand recovering to the 2019 level in 2021, supported by improving exports and investment in manufacturing facilities. South Korea saw a jump in new shipping orders in 2021, which will boost Korea’s steel demand for the coming years.

Developing economies excluding China:

Steel demand in the developing economies excluding China continued to recover in 2021, aided by the recovery in commodity prices and international trade. However, new COVID waves combined with low vaccination levels and a slow recovery in international tourism restrained developing economies. In 2022, as vaccinations progress, conditions in the developed economies are expected to improve.

India: Since July, a healthy recovery has resumed for all sectors. As a result, India’s steel demand suffered only a minor downward revision and will show a strong recovery in 2021. India’s steel demand will reclaim the 100 million tonnes mark this year.

In the ASEAN region, Vietnam, which had successfully escaped the serious economic impact of the pandemic in 2020, is looking at a scaled-down outlook for 2021 due to surging infections. On the other hand, the Philippines has managed to implement construction projects despite the COVID restrictions. With delayed infrastructure projects and restricted labour mobility, the ASEAN region’s recovery is expected to be only moderate.

 Turkey and Russia:

After a moderate fall in 2020, Russia’s steel demand’s recovery is supported by a strong rebound in the automotive sector. The construction sector is supported by the government mortgage subsidy programme.

The strong positive trend in the Turkish economy that started in Q3 2020 continued in 2021, driven by domestic demand with expanding consumer loans. Turkish steel demand will continue to show high double-digit growth in 2021, driven by infrastructure projects and industrial activity. Turkey’s steel demand will exceed the pre-currency crisis level of 36 Mt in 2022.

Latin American:

Steel demand in Latin America, except Brazil, was severely hit by the pandemic in 2020. But in 2021 a surprisingly strong recovery has been taking place, due to the construction and automotive sectors and inventory rebuilding. However, in 2022, the region could see markedly weakened momentum as it will struggle with compounded structural issues including high inflation, heightened fiscal deficits and political uncertainty.

About the World Steel Association

The World Steel Association (worldsteel) is a non-profit organization based in Belgium with more than 170 members representing 85% of the world’s steel production.

About the worldsteel Economic Committee

The World Steel Association Economic Committee offers reliable information on the trends and prospects of global demand for steel in the short and medium term and discusses the strategic issues and major challenges impacting the future of the industry. It also monitors the adherence of its members to the principles of antimonopoly and encourages the exchange of information and cooperation between different parties to achieve common benefits.

About Engineer Saeed Ghumran Al Remeithi

Engineer Saeed Ghumran Al Remeithi is Emirates Steel’s Chief Executive Officer. He is a UAE national and holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from California State University. Currently, he chairs the Economic Committee for 3 years running from 2018 until 2021.

Al Remeithi has over 18 years of experience in the steel industry. Eng. Al Remeithi has been with Emirates Steel since its inception. He commenced his career as Production Engineer in Operations and progressed through the ranks to become the Senior Vice President Operations. In July 2011, he was appointed as Chief Executive Officer to head the company into its next phase of business development and to solidify Emirates Steel’s position as an integral part of Abu Dhabi 2030 vision.

 About Emirates Steel

Emirates Steel is a leading integrated steel manufacturer in the Middle East region, based in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. Through Senaat, Emirates Steel is part of ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies with a broad portfolio of major enterprises spanning key sectors of Abu Dhabi’s diversified economy. Established in 1998, Emirates Steel boasts leverages cutting-edge rolling mill technology, and supplies the domestic and international markets with high quality finished products including wire rods, rebars, heavy sections and sheet piles.

Emirates Steel is the largest producer of heavy and jumbo sections, and the only producer of hot rolled sheet piles in the region. The company is the fourth steelmaker in the world to receive the ASME accreditation to produce nuclear grade rebar. Moreover, Emirates Steel is the first steelmaker in the world to capture its CO2 emissions, and the first manufacturing company in the Middle East and among the first 50 companies in the world to be verified for (LEED) green building system documentation. The company plays an enabling role in building the UAE’s future and contributes to achieving the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and UAE Centennial 2071 through its delivery of market-leading products to local industries and provision of career opportunities for talented UAE nationals.