Comparing the first eight months of 2016 with the same period in 2015 is disheartening for the Latin American steel industry, which dipped 9% in terms of crude steel production.

Latin America and the Caribbean produced 39Mt with Brazil accounting for 20.3Mt, an annual contraction of 11%, according to Alacero (the Latin American Steel Association).

Over the same period, the region as a whole produced 33.8Mt of finished steel, down 6% on 2015 figures, with Brazil producing 14Mt (or 41% of Latin American output). Mexico’s share was 37% (12.6Mt).

In terms of finished steel consumption, the region was down 12% at 40.4Mt. The largest increases – in absolute and percentage terms – were in Mexico (158.3kt additional tons, up 1%); Peru (145kt additional tons, up 8%); Panama (45.5kt additional tons, up 16%); and Honduras (32kt additional tons, up 16%).

In Brazil, consumption shrank by 2.9Mt and was down 19% when compared with 2015 figures. Declines of 23%, 9%, 5% and 16% respectively were recorded in Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Ecuador.

Looking at the region’s total steel consumption, flat products accounted for 52%, long products 47% and seamless tubes 1% – or 21Mt, 18.9Mt and 512kt respectively.

Latin America imported 12.7Mt of finished steel between January and August 2016, down 21% on 2015 figures. Of this total 64% was flat products, 34% long products and 3% seamless tubes. Imports represent 32% of regional finished steel consumption, says Alacero, which, it claims, ‘brings about disincentives to the local industry, trade frictions, and threatens jobs’.

Over the period, Latin America has recorded a deficit of 6.9Mt of finished steel, 33% lower than one observed last year (10.4Mt). Brazil was the only country to maintain a trade surplus of finished steel (2.4Mt) while the largest deficit was recorded in Mexico (down 3Mt) followed by Columbia (down 1.5Mt), Peru (down 1Mt) and Chile also down 1Mt.

September 2016 crude steel production reached 5Mt, 4% less than August, and volumes over the January-September 2016 period was 44Mt, down 9% on 2015 levels.

The production of finished steel closed at 4.4Mt, the same as August 2016, and the nine month January to September figure was 38.1Mt, down 6% on last year.