Per capita steel consumption in India a third of global figure: Study

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India may have catapulted to the second spot in global steel production but its consumption betrays the strides made in output.

Figures released by World Steel Association (WSA) show India languishing at the bottom rungs of the consumption ladder with a per capita consumption of only 70.9 kilogram (kg), marking a notable chasm with the global figure of 224.5 kg. India's per capita finished steel consumption grew by seven per cent in calendar 2018, over 66.2 kg in 2017 though the modest growth was not enough to bridge the gulf with the global growth.

In contrast, China, the biggest steel producer, stunned with a whopping per capita consumption of 590 kg.

In India, the usage of the alloy has been rising only moderately- from a per head consumption of 58.8 kg in 2014 to 61.3 kg in 2015 and 63.2 kg in 2016. The country is only solaced by Venezuela and Other Africa (barring South Africa & Egypt) which lag in steel consumption.

During 2018, the world's total finished steel usage stood at 1712 million tonnes (mt). However, India’s share was an unimpressive 5.6 per cent. China continued its hegemon status in steel consumption, accounting for 48.8 per cent share of the pie. Other Asian nations (excluding China, India, Japan, South Korea & Taiwan) contributed 10 per cent to the global consumption with the European Union perilously close at 9.9 per cent. The triumvirate of United States, Canada and Mexico forming the trade bloc- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes next with 8.3 per cent share.

Still trailing heavily in consumption, India, back in 2018, had usurped Japan as the second largest steel producing nation. China, though, is the largest producer of crude steel, accounting for more than 51 per cent of all production, according to Worldsteel, a consortium with representative members in every major steel making country. In calendar 2018, India's crude steel output inched up 4.9 per cent to 106.5 mt, up from 101.5 mt in 2017.

In its report titled 'Short Range Outlook April 2019', WSA had prophesied Indian steel demand to grow in upwards of seven per cent in 2019 and 2020.

Weathering the shocks of demonetisation and the Goods & Services Tax (GST) implementation, the Indian economy is now expected to step on the higher growth trajectory beginning the second half of 2019. While fiscal deficit might weigh on public investment to an extent, the wide range of continuing infrastructure projects could support growth in steel demand above seven per cent in both 2019 and 2020, the association noted.

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