The European stainless steel industry is continuing to suffer under the impact of COVID-19.
Although demand for stainless steel recovered from its lowest levels in March and April, overall European demand is not expected to exceed perhaps 70% of pre-pandemic levels and any recovery will take significantly longer than many anticipate - with some leading market analysts forecasting this to be 2023.
Even with a recovery, however, the challenge of import penetration of the EU market remains evident. An increasing volume of stainless is being produced outside the EU and imported into this market. The latest development within Taiwan should be seen as a warning sign whereby some market participants have just shut down their furnaces and are importing stainless slab instead from Indonesia; in other words, an environmentally-friendly product made from stainless scrap is replaced by one which entails a significantly higher volume - perhaps around five times higher - of carbon dioxide emissions.
Saying this, the recycling industry must concentrate its efforts on keeping stainless scrap an attractive and competitive raw material.
Regarding demand, it is currently difficult to imagine from where further production increases could come. Supply and demand seem to be balanced.