World stainless steel production reached 24.6 million metric tons (mmt) for the full year 2004, according to the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF). This is a rise of 7.5% compared to the full year 2003.

Growth was driven by a particularly strong fourth quarter of 2004. Worldwide stainless production grew by 9.3% during the fourth quarter of 2004.

Asia is the largest stainless steel producing area in the world. Total Asian production grew by almost 12% to 11.9 mmt. This was on top of an already high increase in production of 18% in 2003. Production in China grew by 33% compared to 2003. South Korea (18%) and India (11%) also showed strong increases in production.

Western Europe/Africa is the second largest stainless steel producing area. Total output grew by 4.1% in 2004, bringing production in this area to 9.4 mmt. Production in the region was hit by strikes and bad weather in the first quarter of 2004.

Production in Central and Eastern Europe was 343,000 metric tons in 2004. The region has shown a strong increase in the consumption of stainless steel. However, local production facilities are unable to meet this demand.

Growth in The Americas was 3.5% in 2004, the same rate as in 2003. Total output in 2004 was 2.9 mmt. It is worth noting that Canada stopped stainless steel production during the second half of 2004.