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[PARIS] A recovery in steel demand is unlikely before next year, an industry group said Wednesday, owing to a slowdown in the Chinese economy and weakness in manufacturing.
The forecast comes as the industry is roiled by a collapse in prices, the fear of cheap Chinese steel flooding markets, and the social impact of cutbacks to production.
"The economic environment facing the steel industry continues to be challenging with China's slowdown impacting globally..." said TV Narendran, who heads the economics committee of the World Steel Association, or worldsteel.
After dropping by 3 per cent last year, global steel demand will decrease by another 0.8 per cent this year to 1,488 million tonnes, worldsteel predicts.
"Growth for steel demand in all markets except China is expected in 2017" with an expansion of 0.4 per cent to 1,494 million tonnes, said Mr Narendran, who is also managing director of Tata Steel for India and southeast Asia.
Chinese demand for steel is expected to decline by 4.0 percent this year followed a 3.0 per cent drop in 2017 to 626.1 million tonnes.
Mr Narendran's company Tata has begun offloading assets in Britain as it tries to scale back.
European steel manufacturers have called for protection from cheap steel imports from China, but the EU has moved slower than the United States in imposing protective tariffs.
Demand in the United States, Canada and Mexico is expected to pick up by 3.2 per cent this year and 2.6 per cent in 2017.
The EU will see more modest demand growth of 1.4 per cent and 1.7 per cent.