The trade association representing the world’s primary steelmakers issued a short-range forecast of global steel consumption, predicting a 2.9% increase in “apparent steel use” this year, to a total of 1.454 billion metric tons. In the following year, the association predicts global steel consumption will rise a further 3.2% and reach 1.5 billion metric tons for 2014.

The World Steel Assn. represents steelmakers in 62 countries. It released its Short Range Outlook (SRO) for 2013 and 2014 during a meeting of its Economics Committee, April 6-7.

The 2013-2014 offers encouragement after the past year of declining demand. In 2012, global steel consumption grew just 1.2%. Total world steel production last year was 1.548 billion metric tons.

“2012 was a challenging year for the steel industry, with apparent steel use increasing at the slowest rate since 2009, when demand declined by -6.5%,” World Steel Economics Committee chairman Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff noted. “This was mainly due to the Eurozone crisis, which persisted throughout 2012 and whose impact was felt further afield.

“On top of this, corrective macroeconomic measures in major emerging economies also contributed to a concerted slowdown globally,” Kerkhoff continued.

However, the economist noted that recently the primary risks to the strength of the global economy – the Eurozone crisis, a hard landing for the Chinese economy, and the U.S. ‘fiscal cliff’– have stabilized considerably “We now expect a recovery in global steel demand to kick in by the second half, led by the emerging economies,” he said.

The World Steel Assn. outlook seems more positive than that of 150 steelmakers, suppliers, and buyers, surveyed by Platts: that media group for the energy and metals commodities sectors cited poll results that identify oversupply and a weak global economy as the greatest challenges to the European steel industry.

Kerkhoff cautioned that, “the situation on the financial markets remains fragile, and the Eurozone crisis is far from being solved as the recent events in Cyprus have again shown. In 2014, we expect a further pickup in global steel demand with the developed economies increasingly contributing to growth.”