1950 could be considered the starting point of the race; around that time India and China produced and consumed almost the same quantity of steel. But from then on, the tracks diverge. And diverge significantly.
Steel Production in India
In the period of 1997 to 2003 per capita steel consumption in China grew from 95 kg to 160 kg whereas the corresponding increase in India was 22 to 29 kg. China’s steel production increased by 105 mT from 95 mT in 1997 to 200 mT in 2003 while the corresponding rise in India was only from 23 mT to 30 mT.
Can India catch up ? Or, probably the right question may be : is India likely to catch up ? The growing consumer demand and the push that it may give to the infrastructure, is likely to prod the production and consumption to grow. India can be expected to reach a per capita steel consumption of at least 100 kg, if not more, by 2020. The ratio of long to flat products will also be set right to about 55% long and 45% flat.
Steel Consumption in India
With an estimated population of around 1.4 billion in 2020, this level of consumption will mean a steel requirement of about 140 million tonnes per year – or an increase of 110 mT in eight yearsfrom the current level. This is definitely feasible if one considers that China increased its production by 70 mT in 4 years from 2000 to 2003. We may not be able to match the pace of China, but we can definitely reduce the gap.