While mankind has been producing steel for thousands of years, mass production of steel received a boost when Bessemer designed a new way of purifying iron into steel. This was in 1857. Almost 100 years later, the market for steel was deemed global enough to need a global industry association. This led to the creation of the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) in 1967. The name was changed to World Steel Association (worldsteel) in 2008.
Much has changed in 50 years – back in 1967, the world produced just less than 500 million tonnes of steel. In 2016, the world produced just over 1,600 million tonnes. Most of the growth came from new industrialising nations – Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Iran and China.
The product is so versatile and so fundamental to our lives that it is considered essential to economic growth. Consequently, for most of the past 50 years, the world has been producing increasingly more steel and sometimes more than is actually required – while at the same time, making the product universally affordable and promoting intense competition between its producers.
In the competitive world we operate in, fierce competition for markets will remain, with the present push to protect domestic markets probably continuing for the next few years. Producers will be forced to be as competitive as possible in order to retain their customers. Steel as a product will experience competition from other materials. worldsteel as a strategic resource for the industry will work to remain the custodian of best practice in the industry, support research and development and continue to highlight the positive benefits to society of a healthy and sustainable steel industry.
This blog is one way through which we hope to gather your views on the status of our industry and the many challenges it will need to address in times ahead. We look forward to our dialogue with you.
Director General wordsteel