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In 2023, the steel industry in Germany and elsewhere in Europe was characterized by: weak demand, especially from the construction sector; falling incoming orders for mechanical and plant engineering; and still-high energy costs. According to the German Steel Federation, domestic crude steel production fell to 35.4 million tonnes - its lowest level since the financial crisis of 2009. The drop in electric steel production was particularly dramatic at around 11% to 9.8 million tonnes, even falling below the lowest point recorded during the financial crisis when it stood at 11.3 million tonnes.

The situation last year was not much better in the rest of the EU-27 where, according to worldsteel, production across all Member States totalled 126.3 million tonnes for a year-on-year decline of 7.4%. Making a global comparison, the European steel industry thus recorded the sharpest decline in production. At 1.849 billion tonnes, global steel production in 2023 was almost at the previous year’s level thanks to increases in North Africa, Russia/CIS, the Middle East and Asia. These offset the declines in Europe and both North and South America.

The fourth quarter of 2023 ended quite satisfactorily for the recycled steel trade despite geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and persistently weak demand for steel. Competition from Asia and the sharp rise in production costs for pig iron led to a significant increase in HMS 1&2 (80:20) cfr Turkey prices in the final three months of the year. Although Turkish steel mills continued to struggle with a virtually non-existent export business and high import pressure from Asian steel producers, they were prepared to accept exporters’ rising price demands.