Owing to the continuous problems of the global economy, it is not possible to say that 2014 will be recalled as an excellent year. The first half of the year has been hard, characterized by a low production, whereas, on the second half there has been a marked improvement due to the activation of the automotive industry.
The world liquid steel production did not grow in a strong way. During 2014 it increased by 1.2% over the previous tax year, achieving 1,662 million tonnes, while it was expected to increase by 4% at 2013. Forecasts estimated a positive growth for the global production in 2015, an increase of 2.7%.
The same happens in the Spanish production, our mills have finished the year producing 14.2 million tonnes, as in 2013, and becoming the 4th European producer after Germany, Italy and France and before United Kingdom and Poland.
Further to the economic areas, during the last year, Europe recovered the steel demand, which slowed down during the previous two years, producing 169 million tonnes, an increase of 1.7%.
In relation to the Asian market, its production increased 1.4% till 1,132 million tonnes where China grew 0.9% reaching 822.7 million tonnes. Nevertheless, the global contribution of the country was reduced from 49.7% in 2013 to 49.5% in 2014. In Japan, the steel production grew 0.1% and in South Korea it also grew 7.5%.
Regarding North America, the steel production increased 2%, while South America decreased by 1.4% as a result of the drop of Brazil, Venezuela and Chile.
The most positive signals are shown in the Middle East market where 29 million tonnes were melted, 8% more than in 2013, where the steel and metal sector have been driven by the soccer World Cup in Qatar or the Expo 2020 Dubai, benefiting from the continued success of other domestic sectors that rely on the supply of steel and metal products. Another noted country is Iran, which increased its production a 6.5%, almost reaching 16.5 million melted tonnes.
There were no changes among the largest ten steel producer countries: China, Japan, U.S.A., India, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Brazil and Ukraine.
As for the turnover is concerned, once again this year and as a result of the weakness of domestic demand, the Spanish companies have intensified even more the action plan on internationalization.
The volume of exportation of the Spanish companies approached 7,160 million euro (until November 2014) for the producers and transformers sectors and 192 million euro (until November 2014) for equipment and machinery. Both sectors will close the tax year with a higher volume of exportations than in 2013.
Our main export destinations, in order of importance, have been France, Germany, Algeria, Portugal and Italy. United States reached the 7th position in the ranking, having received near 300 million of euro, what means an increase of 58%, as a consequence of the recent weakening of the dollar.
The exports are still the unique logical solution for the companies, being the European Union our first customer for these exports.
On the contrary, the imports grew around 4%. This is a higher value than the consumption, what means that the imports have a big strength for the Spanish plants. China has been the first country, out of the European Union, with which more activity had our companies, we have import a 13% more than in 2013.
Further to the different type of products, while flat products experienced an improvement, long products, which mostly are used in the construction sector, barely recovered in year-on-year terms. As a result of the start up of the automotive sector, the flat products had a better behavior in the market than the long ones.
We have to highlight positively the recovery of the tubes production which in 2014 increased till it reached its historical peak of 165 million tones, 6% more than in 2013, were China produced 87 million tones, 10% more than the last year and representing the half of the world production. Further to the European producers, they also suffer a recovery and they produced 13 million tones, 9% more than in 2013.
The alloy steel did not had the best behavior, growing the world production around 9%, were China, once again, produced almost the 50%.
Last year 130 companies participated in internationalization activities, visiting 23 different countries in the 15 trade delegation that were carried out. Among the arranged activities we have to stand out the next ones: a trade delegation from the mass media, two International Steel Conference participations and three International Steel Congresses.
As the Basque Country Steel Cluster, SIDEREX made different projects in order to help the steel sector companies to be more competitive. The project called “conectando oportunidades” (“connecting chances”) which was developed with the steel mills and the processors, was also copied to the engineering companies and to the equipment and machinery companies. As a result of this project, different work teams were created which thematic took from the search of projects around the world to the analysis of some international markets.
On the other side, projects about the creation of new plants in Algeria and Iran were coordinated, different conferences for the energy efficiency were carried out and a new tool was introduced in the website of Siderex. This tool systematically captures, arranges, analyzes and spreads information about different established fields.
During the year, we have had to live together, once again, with one of the most important problems for the production of our industry; the high energy costs, specifically, the electrical one.
In comparison with our main competitors, France or German, our costs are too high, making impossible to compete on equal terms and threatening gravely our competitive position.
We would like to thank to the Basque Government, as much to their Internationalization direction with their Elkartzen program as to the SPRI and specially, to the direction of the Planning and Strategy, that with their Clusters program have reinforced the position of Siderex. This have allowed us to carry out new activities, not just for internationalization, but also in other fields previously mentioned. We would also like to thank to ICEX for their support to the internationalization of the Spanish steel sector. Thanks to UNESID because of their constant support and above all, thanks to all the companies that have participated in every activity arranged by Siderex.