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EU28 apparent steel consumption grew by 2.6% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018 and
amounted to 38 million tonnes. Quarterly apparent steel consumption had, on average, been
around 43 million in the first half of the year. Lower consumption in the third quarter can be
explained from the usual seasonal slowdown in manufacturing and construction activity and some
destocking in the supply chain.
Estimates for the fourth quarter of 2018 show a further deceleration in year-on-year growth in
apparent steel consumption and again a lower quarterly volume as a result of seasonal destocking
in the final quarter of the year.
EU steel market fundamentals are expected to remain moderately positive. Nevertheless, apparent
steel consumption growth is forecast to slow down to only 0.5% in 2019 followed by 1.2% in 2020,
less than one-third of the compound annual growth rate of apparent steel consumption over the
period 2014-2018. This very modest growth scenario in combination with a global steel market that
is suffering from overcapacity, slowing demand – and as a consequence a flurry of protectionist
measures – has the potential to develop into a major threat for EU market stability over the forecast
period. The proposed relaxation of the safeguard measures appears to be over-proportionate and
entails the risk of undermining the effectiveness of the mechanism.