Figures released by Alacero, the Latin American Steel Association, reveal that, for the first nine months of 2015, finished steel consumption in the region decreased by 2%.

There was also a 2% reduction in regional crude steel production and a 4% drop in finished steel output when compared to the January to September period of 2014.

Imported finished steel, however, now accounts for 35% of regional consumption and this is worrying because imports are increasing their share in local markets, according to Alacero.

“The regional trade balance remains negative, although in the first nine months of 2015 the deficit in tons decreased 1.4% versus the same period in 2014,” Alacero said.

Between January and September 2015, Latin America and the Caribbean produced 48.3Mt of crude steel, 2% below the volume recorded for the same period last year. Brazil contributed 52% of regional production (25.2Mt) and showing an annual contraction of 1%.

Where finished steel was concerned, the region produced 40.3Mt or rolled steel, down 4% on last year with Brazil as main producer (17.4Mt) and 43% of the total. Mexico produced 13.2Mt or 33% of the total.

Where finished steel consumption was concerned, the region consumed 52.2Mt, down 2% year-on-year, but some countries registered increases both in absolute and percentage terms. Mexico, for example, increased consumption by 1.6Mt, up 9%; Chile upped its consumption by 142kt, an increase of 7%. Argentinian consumption was up 1% (50kt).

The flip side of the coin saw Brazilian finished steel consumption dip by 2.8Mt (14% down on last year’s figure). Likewise in Columbia and Peru consumption fell 3% and 14% respectively.

Over the first nine months of the year Latin America registered a finished steel trade deficit of 11.7Mt. This imbalance, claims Alacero, is 1.4% lower than the one observed over the same period last year when it was 11.9Mt.

Only Brazil recorded a trade surplus in finished steel, by 1Mt. Mexico recorded the largest deficit (down 5.2Mt) followed by Columbia (down 1.6Mt); Chile (down 1.4Mt) and Peru (down 1.1Mt).

Looking ahead to October 2015 figures, crude steel production reached 5.9Mt, up 12% on September and 1% more than October last year. Finished steel production closed at 4.7Mt, up 10% on September but 2% less than October 2014.

The figure for the first 10 months of the year for crude steel production reached 54.2Mt, down 2% year-on-year. Finished steel production reached 45Mt, down 4% on the same period last year.