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Wednesday, 02 June 21
EUROPEAN UNION'S IRON ORE IMPORTS - BANCHERO COSTA
Banchero CostaThe European Union (27) is currently the fourth largest importer of iron ore in the world, after China, Japan, and South Korea.
 
Europe’s steel industry has long been overshadowed by China and the rest of Asia, and presently Europe accounts for just 7% of global crude steel production, and 5% of global iron ore imports.
 
2020 was still a reasonably positive year for global iron ore trade, and the main constrain has actually been if anything insufficient supply capacity from the exporters.
 
Total global loadings in the 12 months of 2020 were up +1.4% yearon-year to 1547.0 million tonnes, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv.
 
Mainland China accounted for 73% of global seaborne iron ore imports, and saw imports increase by +6.9% y-o-y to 1107.5 mln tonnes in 2020.
 
Europe, however, was very strongly hit by the Covid pandemic in 2020, and the extensive lockdowns and economic recession had a very negative impact on steel production and iron ore imports.
 
The European Union’s crude steel production declined by -11.8% year on-year in 2020 to 138.8 mln tonnes.
 
In the 12 months of 2020, the European Union imported 70.3 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a -25.1% decline year-on-year.
 
Things were particularly bad in the middle part of the year.
 
In the first 3 months of 2020, the European Union imported 20.0 mln tonnes of iron ore, down -8.6% yearon-year.
 
The second quarter of 2020 saw imports of just 14.0 mln tonnes to the EU which was down -46.6% y-o-y compared to the equivalent quarter in 2019.
 
In the third quarter, imports recovered slightly to 17.2 mln tonnes, which was still down -26.2% y-o-y from the same quarter in 2019.
 
The fourth quarter of 2020 saw imports correcting slightly to 19.1 mln tonnes, still down -15.0% compared to the 4Q 2019.
 
When it comes to imports into the European Union in the first quarter of 2021, it is pretty much the same story.
 
In the first 3 months of 2021 the European Union imported 19.0 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a further -4.9% y-o-y decline from the already low first quarter of 2020.
 
To put things in context, 1Q 2021 was -13.1% down from the equivalent quarter in 2019, and -22.1% down from 1Q 2018
 
In terms of individual countries, 40.4% of imports in 2020 were done by the Netherlands (largely due to the importance of Rotterdam as a gateway port).
 
German ports accounted for 17.1% of imports in 2020, followed by France with 13.2%, Spain with 8.3%, Italy with 7.6%, Belgium with 6.7%.
 
When it comes to the sources of the shipments, the biggest hit in 2020 was taken by Brazil.
 
Brazil was still the top supplier of iron ore to the European Union in 2020, accounting for 26% of the EU’s imports in 2020.
 
However, shipments from Brazil to the EU declined by a massive -45.0% year-on-year in 2020 to just 18.2 mln tonnes, from 33.0 mln tonnes in 2019.
 
Again, to put this further into context, this was also down from 44.1 mln tonnes in 2018 and 45.8 mln tonnes in 2017.
 
Things were a bit more stable from other suppliers.
 
Shipments from Canada to the EU in 2020 declined by only -13.3% y-o-y to 17.7 mln tonnes.
 
Canada accounted for 25.2% of the EU’s total iron ore imports in 2020. Shipments from South Africa also declined by -13.0% y-o-y in 2020 to 9.5 mln tonnes.
 
Volumes from Liberia increased by +12.8% y-o-y to 3.8 mln tonnes in 2020.
 
South Africa accounted for 13.5% and Liberia for 5.3% of the EU’s iron ore imports in 2020.
Source: Weekly Report, Banchero Costa


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