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Demand for steel in the European Union and Britain fell 11.6% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit industrial activity, but is expected to recover this year, industry group Eurofer said Wednesday.

Eurofer expects steel demand in the EU and the UK to increase by 13.3% in 2021
Eurofer expects steel demand in the EU and the UK to increase by 13.3% in 2021

Positive figures from steelmakers in Q4 2020

“2020 is likely to be one of the worst years on record, even if we will see positive figures in the fourth quarter,” Eurofer Director General Axel Eggert said.

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Decline in steel consumption in Q3 2021

The decline in apparent steel consumption in the third quarter for the 27 EU members plus the U.K. to 32.8 million tons was an improvement from the 25% drop in the second quarter, the European Steel Association said in a statement.

Apparent steel consumption measures steelmakers’ output plus net imports minus net exports.

Steel consumption to rise 13.3% in 2021

Apparent consumption is forecast to fall 13% in 2020 before rebounding 13.3% this year to 152 million tons, which would still be 2 million tons below 2019 levels.

2021 forecast includes the U.K.

For consistency, the 2021 forecast includes the U.K., which left the EU on Jan. 1, 2020, but remained in the single market during a transition period for the rest of last year.

Following the release of data for the first quarter of 2021, Eurofer will remove the U.K. from its calculations and revise the data series, Alessandro Sciamarelli, director of market analysis, told Reuters.

EU to provide funding to steelmakers

Eurofer’s Eggert called on the EU to support the steel sector with funding aimed at the bloc’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

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Eurofer calls for steel sector to be prioritized

“The EU should use this crisis as an opportunity to use the recovery fund to support industry in meeting its decarbonisation ambitions – starting with sectors such as steel,” he said.

European steelmakers under pressure

The European steel sector already faced difficult conditions last year due to a downturn in the bloc’s manufacturing sector, trade tensions and uncertainty over the UK’s exit from the EU.

Imports of steel products continue to fall

Imports of steel products from outside the EU fell 25.4% in the third quarter, the third consecutive quarterly decline of more than 10%, Eurofer added.

Source: eurofer.eu

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