EU imports of finished steel products declined throughout March because of negative market sentiment, according to the European Steel Association (EUROFER).
March statistics reveal COVID-19 made an impact, albeit a marginal one because the pandemic was nascent.
Industry shutdowns began in March, the effects of which will be most pronounced in Q2 2020. The April through June period has already borne witness to more drastic downturns.
The EU imported 1.28mn mt of flat products and 429,000mt of long products to total 1.7mn mt of finished steel imported in March 2020, according to EUROFER. This represents a 27pc decrease in overall imports compared to 1.83mn mt of flat products and 527,000mt of long products, which totaled 2.36mn mt of finished steel imported in March 2019. The decrease was consistently split between flat and long products, and was similar to the decline which began a month earlier.
EU finished steel imports in Q1 2020 totaled 5.72mn mt, with flat products comprising 4.5mn mt and long products the remaining 1.22mn mt, according to the EUROFER data. Finished steel products declined by 20pc in Q1 2020 compared to 7.2mn mt of total imports in Q1 2019, with flat products representing 5.7mn mt and long products comprising 1.5mn mt
The European Commission is presently considering loosening the safety measures implemented during the pandemic, and imposing antidumping procedures on Turkish hot rolled coil imports. Moreover, demand in the global import market is decreasing. HRC imports from Turkey fell by more than 50pc in Q1 2020 compared to the same quarter in year prior, according to EUROFER.
Turkey was the largest source of finished steel imports into the EU in 2018, increasing by 65pc on an annual basis to 6.17mn mt. However, by 2019, the European steel industry struggled, and by 2020 the outlook worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Steel consumption in Europe declined by 5pc on an annual basis in 2019—a seven-year low—and by 11pc in Q4 2019 from the same quarter a year prior.