PARIS: Reflecting a global economic slowdown, worldwide steel production dropped 2.8 percent last year to 1.62 billion tons, just under half of the total produced by China, the World Steel Association said on Monday.
Global steel production slipped back after five years of constant rises, with China, easily the world’s largest consumer and producer, last year producing 803.8 million metric tons (Mt), down 2.3 percent on 2014.
Its actual share of world output, however, increased by 0.2 percentage points to 49.5 percent.
The rise of China’s steel market share comes as competitors accuse Chinese steel firms of dumping their production onto world markets at prices below cost.
Monday’s figures took up official Chinese National Bureau of Statistics data released last week which showed Chinese steel output dropping last year for the first time since 1981 in a sector buffeted by overcapacity.
“Crude steel production decreased in all regions except Oceania in 2015.” the WSA said following the first overall annual drop since 2009, when overall output stood at 1.24 billion tons.
Last October, the WSA had initially forecast a 1.7 percent rise in world demand for 2015, followed by a 0.7 percent rise this year.
Its next forecasts are due in April. The association estimates it represents more than 150 steel producers covering some 85 percent of world production.
Japan, the world’s second largest producer, saw 2015 output slide 5 percent to 105.2 Mt.
Indian production rose 2.3 percent to 83.2 Mt, propelling it to number three globally with a 5.5 percent share from 5.2 previously while South Korea fell back 2.6 percent to 69.7 Mt to retain a constant overall share.
Asia overall saw production fall 2.3 percent to 1.11 billion tons.
Last year saw EU states produce 166.2 Mt of crude steel, a decrease of 1.8 percent on 2014. Germany dipped just 0.6 percent — number five producer Russia, a non-EU member, likewise fell just 0.5 percent, to 71/1 Mt — but Italy and France slumped 7 percent.
The overall EU share was barely changed at 10.2 percent from 10.1 in 2014.
North American production came in 8.6 percent lower at 110.7 Mt, with fourth largest producer the United States seeing production dropping 10.5 percent to 78.9 Mt.