Finished steel consumption in Latin America dropped 15% in January this year while production fell 9%, according to figures released by Alacero, the Latin American Steel Association.

Regional crude steel production fell 17% (to 4.6Mt) and finished steel 9% (to 4.1Mt) year-on-year.

According to Alacero, 36% of regional consumption is being met by imports and the share of imports in local markets is advancing. While the regional trade balance remains negative, the deficit in tons for January was down 32% when compared with the same period in 2015.

In terms of finished steel consumption, the largest increases in absolute and percentage terms, were recorded in Mexico (88kt, up 5%) and in Guatemala (51kt, up 89%). In Peru the figure was 18kt, up 7%.

Rolled steel consumption in Brazil shrank by 699kt, down 34% when compared with January 2015 figures. Columbia recorded declines of 6%.

Alacero claims that 54% of Latin American total steel consumption is flat products (2.9Mt) while 45% is long products (2.4Mt) and 1% seamless tubes (32kt).

Latin America imported 1.9Mt of finished steel, down 23% when compared with January 2015. Of this, 65% was flat products (1.3Mt) and 32% long products (627kt). Seamless tube imports accounted for 3% of imports (48kt).

The region exported 691kt of finished steel, up 2% over January 2015 (680kt) of which 52% was flat products (362kt) and 33% long products (232kt). Seamless tube accounted for 14% of exports (98kt).

In January 2016 there was a trade deficit of 1.2Mt of finished steel, which was 32% lower than that of January 2015 (1.8Mt).

Brazil was the only country to maintain a trade surplus (263kt) while the largest deficit was recorded in Mexico (down 498kt) followed by Columbia (down 235kt), Chile was down 163kt and Peru down 160kt.

Alacero claims that crude steel production in February 2016 will be 4.6Mt, which would be 1% less than January 2016 and 8% less than February 2015.