During the first two months of 2017, the level of steel consumption in Latin America is similar to the same period last year (2016) according to figures released by the Latin America Steel Asssociation (Alacero). Regional production of crude and finished steel increased 10% and 2%, respectively.

Regional steel imports represent 33% of Latin-American consumption, 1 point higher than in 2016 (32%). The trade balance of the region remains negative, having increased by 2% over the figure for Jan-Feb 2016.

Crude Steel. Latin America and the Caribbean produced 10.2Mt of crude steel in January and February 2017 up 10% in volume terms on the same period in 2016 (9.3 Mt). Brazil accounted for 53% of regional production (5.4 Mt), up 10% compared with last year.

Latin America produced 8.3 Mt of finished steel, 2% higher than in January and February last year, claims Alacero. Brazil was the main producer (3.5 Mt), accounting for 42% of Latin American output. Mexico was second with 3.1 Mt (37% of regional output).

Finished steel consumption in the region reached 9.9 Mt, the same level as January and February 2016. In absolute percentage terms, the largest increases in consumption were recorded in Mexico (up 200kt, an increase of 5%), Brazil (148kt, up 5%) and El Salvador (107kt, up 182%).

In Argentina finished steel consumption shrank by 43kt, down 6% when compared with 2016 figures. Ecuador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Chile and Peru recorded declines of 42%, 47%, 83%, 12% and 14%, respectively.

Of Latin-American`s total steel consumption, 57% is flat products (5.6 Mt), 44% long products (4.3 Mt) and 2% seamless tubes (152 thous tons).

Where imports are concerned, Latin America imported 3.3 Mt of finished steel, up 3% on 2016 (3.2 Mt). Of this total, 68% corresponds to flat products (2.3 Mt), 28% for long products (937kt) and 3% to seamless tubes (106kt).

Imports currently represent 33% of regional finished steel consumption, which brings about disincentives to the local industry, trade frictions, and potential unemployment issues.

Latin American finished steel exports reached 1.4 Mt, up 4% on 2016 (1.4 Mt). Of this total, 49% are flat products (694kt), 39% long products (557kt) and 12% to seamless tubes (168kt) .

During the first two months of 2017, the Latin America region recorded a trade deficit of 1.9Mt of finished steel, 2% higher than in 2016.

Brazil was the only country to maintain a trade surplus of finished steel, 418kt. The largest deficit was recorded in Mexico (-866kt), followed by Colombia (416kt), Chile (-237kt) and Peru (-234kt).

In production terms, advance information for March 2017 indicates that crude steel production reached 5.4Mt, 8% higher than February 2017 and 16% more than in March 2016. Meanwhile, finished steel production closed at 4.4 Mt in February 2017, 10% higher than February 2017 and 4% more than March 2017.

Source: Alacero.