BEIJING – In 2014, China’s apparent crude steel consumption declined 3.4 percent from a year ago to 738.3 million tonnes for the first time in three decades, as per calculations published by the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA).
It is a further indication of how its economic slowdown is hurting industrial demand. A decreased in the use of steel in China will dent iron ore prices that have already been roiled by a global oversupply. Spot rates of the steelmaking ingredient are currently mired near a 5-1/2 year low $65.60 per tonne.
China’s power output growth fell to a 16-year low last year, while coal output likely dropped for the first time in more than a decade, official data shows. Struggling with weak demand as economic growth slowed to 7.4 percent in 2014, the lowest since 1990, Chinese steel producers turned to exports, which according to CISA rose 64.5 percent to the equivalent of 84.4 million tonnes of crude steel last year.
Overseas sales got a further boost last year as exporters took advantage of a loophole that allowed them to gain tax rebates by adding tiny quantities of boron to their products. China’s 2014 steel output rose 0.9 percent to a record 822.7 million tonnes over the year, data showed.