Consumption of steel products worldwide follows the trend of economic activity in individual countries. There is a clear trend for high levels of consumption of steel products at certain stages of economic development, which are associated with rapid urbanisation and construction, combined with industrialisation and the growth of manufacturing industry. The urbanisation and construction provide strong demand for steel long products (bars, heavy and light sections) and some flat products (plate and galvanised sheet for construction, including coated sheet), while the growth of manufacturing industry provides demand for flat products (hot- and cold-rolled coil, stainless steel, etc).
As more countries pass through this development phase, following on a smaller scale the path of China from the mid-1990’s onwards, steel demand will increase rapidly in some parts of the world.
The other clear long-term trend is that steel consumption stabilises or starts to fall in relation to GDP at high levels of income per head. This means that there will continue to be slow growth in steel consumption in the developed countries of North America, Western Europe and Japan.
For longer discussion of global steel industry trends [including technology trends, price cost trends etc] visit our world steel industry trends page.