On November 17, 2015, Beijing Business Today and Xinhua Economic Information Daily published an article titled “Endless Steel Overcapacity.” China produced 820 million tons of crude steel in 2014, accounting for about half of the global steel production, thanks to the large infrastructure and real estate boom in the last decade. However, domestic demand has decreased recently due to sluggish real estate development. Serious excess steel capacity has resulted in low profit margins. In the past 10 months, China exported 92.13 million tons of excess steel overseas at cheaper rates. This amount is much more than the amount of steel exported last year (73.89 million tons). However, this year’s profit from the exportation of steel has dropped by 6.6 percent.
Local governments have been reluctant to solve the problem of the excess steel production because the iron and steel industry accommodates a lot of employment opportunities. The iron and steel industry would have to lay off unneeded employees in order to reduce the steel overcapacity. The government should let the market eliminate unprofitable companies and backward production capacity. At the same time, the government should take responsibility for assisting the unemployed workers to find new jobs. It should also provide them with a social security pension, health care, and job training so as to minimize any social conflicts.
Sources: Beijing Business Today & Xinhua Economic Information Daily, November 17, 2015