The EU's steel import landscape in 2023 has shifted, with India becoming the top exporter to the EU, contributing to 52% of total imports. The region's steel market saw overall decreases in both flat and long product imports, reflecting a significant reshaping of trade flows.
The first eight months of 2023 have witnessed a notable reconfiguration in the EU's steel import matrix. India has emerged as the top exporter, claiming a 12.6% share of the EU's finished steel imports. South Korea closely trails with a 12.3% share, while Taiwan and China each hold a 9.4% share, followed by Vietnam at 8.1%. Turkey, which once held the prime position as the EU's primary steel source until late 2022, has slipped to sixth place with a 7.5% share.
These top five exporters, as of the current year, account for over half of the EU's total finished steel imports. However, this does not paint the entire picture of the steel import dynamics. There have been significant fluctuations within this period: imports from Turkey, China, and India have seen drastic declines of 59%, 11%, and 31% respectively. Conversely, imports from Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Korea experienced increases of 28%, 15%, 9%, and 3%, respectively.
The trend is not uniform across all categories of imported steel. Flat and long steel products, both crucial to the European market, have decreased by 17% and 24% respectively. Within these categories, the drop is evident across the board. Long products saw a modest 21% of the total import share, but here, too, the only positive note was in heavy sections, which rose by 10%.
In the flat products category, the downward trend was marked, with cold-rolled sheets dropping by a significant 32%, alongside declines in hot-dipped sheets (32%), coated sheets (34%), organic coated products (39%), and hot-rolled wide strips (2%). The sole anomaly in this trend was quarto plate imports, which actually increased by 3%.
The EU's steel import landscape in the initial months of 2023 tells a story of change and adaptation. The shifting dynamics, characterized by a mix of declining and rising imports from different countries and product categories, indicate a period of adjustment for the industry. With India taking the lead in exports to the EU and traditional exporters like Turkey losing ground, the market is certainly in a state of flux.