The World Steel Association (worldsteel) today released its Short Range Outlook (SRO) for 2021 and 2022. worldsteel forecasts that Global steel demand will grow by 5.8% in 2021 to reach 1.87 billion tonnes, after declining 0.2% in 2020. In 2022 steel demand will see further growth of 2.7% to reach 1.92 billion tonnes.

The current forecast assumes that the ongoing second or third waves of infections will stabilise in Q2 and that steady progress on vaccinations will be made, allowing for a gradual return to normality in major steel-using countries.

Mr Al Remeithi, chairman of worldsteel's economics committee, commented, “Despite the disastrous impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods, the global steel industry was fortunate enough to end 2020 with only a minor contraction in steel demand. This was due to a surprisingly robust recovery in China, with growth of 9.1%. In the rest of the world steel demand contracted by 10%. In the coming years, steel demand will recover firmly, both in the developed and developing economies, supported by pent-up demand and governments’ recovery programmes. However, for most developed economies a return to the pre-pandemic levels of steel demand will take a few years.

While it is hoped that the worst of the pandemic is passing, there is still considerable uncertainty for the rest of 2021. The evolution of the virus and progress of vaccinations, withdrawal of supportive fiscal and monetary policies, geopolitics and trade tensions could all affect the recovery envisaged in this forecast.

For the future, structural changes in a post-pandemic world will bring about shifts in steel demand shape. The steel industry will see exciting opportunities from rapid developments through digitisation and automation, infrastructure initiatives, reorganisation of urban centres, and energy transformation. All at the same time as the industry is responding to the need to produce low-carbon steel.”