Eurozone crisis leaves UK steel output in a rut

Ben Southwood
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UK STEEL firms were only able to drag their output up slightly in 2012, according to industry data out this morning.

Firms in the steel industry produced 184,264 tonnes per week on average during 2012, EEF subdivision UK Steel said, an increase of only one per cent compared to 2011’s 182,269 tonnes per week.

“This virtual standstill position is despite the export-oriented plant in Teesside re-starting last spring under new ownership, and leaves UK steel output still around 30 per cent below 2008-9 levels,” said UK Steel director Ian Rodgers.

Rodgers said that the continuing weakness in euro area car production was one major factor contributing to the lack of substantial recovery in the sector, as well as reduced construction output.

He also called for more government spending on infrastructure, echoing calls from other business lobby groups.

Heavy industry has suffered during the recession, with steel output falling from its 2007 high of 14.4m tonnes to 13.5m tonnes in 2008, before collapsing to 10.1m tonnes in 2009.

A recovery false-start in 2010 did not help output to increase – it sunk to 9.7m tonnes that year before inching down to 9.5m tonnes in 2011.

The 2012 improvement only brings yearly production up around 0.1m tonnes.