Alacero, the Latin American Steel Association, reports that for the first six months of 2018, steel consumption remained roughly the same as it was during the same period in 2017. However, crude steel and finished production grew 3% and 5% respectively while imports were down 10%. That said, steel consumption consisted of 35% imported steel and exports are 3% higher than they were during H1 2017.

The Latin America region produced 32.6Mt of crude steel during the period of January to June 2018 compared with 31.6Mt during H1 2017.

According to Alacero, Brazil was the biggest crude steel producer, accounting for 53% of production (17.2Mt) and this represents a 3% increase over the same period last year.

Regional finished steel production was up 5% on 2017 figures at 27.4Mt and the main producers were Brazil (11.6Mt) and Mexico (9.9Mt) with 42% and 36% share respectively.

Where finished steel consumption is concerned, the Latin America region consumed 33.5Mt, roughly similar to 2017 (35.6Mt). The largest increases in consumption were seen in Brazil (up 9%), Argentina (up 15%) and Uruguay (up 4%).

However, Venezuela, Peru and Honduras were down 63%, 21% and 7% respectively.

Most of Latin America’s steel consumption (57%) is flat products (19.3Mt) and 42% long products (14Mt). Seamless tubes account for 1% (461kt).

The region imported 11.7Mt of finished product, down 10% on 2017, of which 71% was flat products (8.3Mt) and 27% long products (3.2Mt). Seamless tubes totalled 298kt or 3% of the total.

Alacero claims that imports account for 35% of regional finished steel consumption, which ‘brings about disincentives to the local industry, trade frictions, and threatens jobs’.

Finished steel exports from Latin America reached 5.2Mt (up 3% on 2017 at 5Mt). Alacero claims that 44% of exports were flat products (2.3Mt) and 43% were longs (2.2Mt). Seamless pipes exports accounted for 13% of the total (667kt).

Latin America recorded a finished steel trade deficit of 6.6Mt, an imbalance 18% lower than over the same period in 2017.

Brazil maintained a trade surplus of 1.3Mt and Mexico recorded the largest trade deficit (3Mt) compared with 1.2Mt in Columbia, 822kt in Chile, 685kt in Peru and 575kt in Ecuador.

Alacero reports that crude steel production in July 2018 reached 5.6Mt, up 4% on June and 5% higher than July last year. The volume recorded during the first seven months of 2018 was 3% higher than the January to July period in 2017 (37Mt).