Latin America produced 52.9 million tons of finished steel during 2017, up 4% from the 50.80 million tonnes in 2016, according to data from regional steel organization Alacero.
Brazil was the main producer with an output of 22.4 million tons, accounting for 42% of the total. Mexico was the second with 18.7 million tons, or 35% of regional output.
The region’s crude steel production in 2017 reached 63.9 million tons, growing 7% year on year. Brazil remained as the main producer with 54% of the regional production (34.4 million tons), recording an annual growth of 10%.
During 2017, finished steel consumption of Latin America reached 67.3 million tons, 4% higher versus 2016 (58.7 million tons). The largest increases in consumption -in absolute and percentage terms- were recorded in Mexico (additional 970,000 tons, an increase of 4%), Brazil (961,000 tons, up 5%), Argentina (754,000 tons, up 18%) and Peru (385,000 tons, up 13%).
Conversely, Venezuela, Panama and Bolivia saw declines of 22%, 17% and 15%, respectively in the same period.
Of Latin America’s total steel consumption, 57% corresponds to flat products (37.3 million tons), 41% to long products (26.8 million tons) and 1% seamless tubes (1.3 million tons).
In 2017, Latin America imported 20.6 million tons of finished steel products, up 4% from a year ago (19.8 million tons). Of this total, 70% corresponds to flat products (14.4 million tons), 27% to long products (5.6 million tons) and 3% seamless tubes (548,000 tons).
“Currently, imports represent 30% of the regional finished steel consumption, which brings about disincentives to the local industry, trade friction and threatens jobs,” Alacero said.
Exports of finished steel in the region reached 9.8 million tons, 12% more than in 2016 (8.7 million tons). Of this total, 50% were flat products (4.9 million tons), 41% were long products (4 million tons) and 9% seamless tubes (882,000 tons). Thus, the region recorded a finished steel trade deficit of 10.8 million tons during 2017. This balance was 2% lower than that observed in 2016 (11.1 million tons).
During the year, Brazil and Argentina were the only countries to maintain a trade surplus of finished steel, 3.5 million tons and 145,000 tons, respectively. In contrast, the largest deficit was recorded in Mexico (5.3 million tons), followed by Colombia (2.1 million tons), Chile (1.6 million tons) and Peru (1.4 million tons).
Alacero estimated that in January 2018, the production of finished steel in the region came to 4.4 million tons, 4% more than a year ago and 3% more than a month earlier. In addition, the regional crude steel production closed at 5.4 million tons, 5% more than December 2017 and 4% higher than January 2017.
Alacero – the Latin American Steel Association – is the non-profit organization that gathers the regional steel value chain. Founded in 1959, Alacero is formed by 49 companies in 12 countries, whose production – of about 70 million annual tons – represents 95% of the steel manufactured in the region. Alacero is a Special Consulting Organization to the United Nations and is recognized as International Non-Government Organization by the Republic of Chile, home to Alacero’s headquarters.
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