After months of crisis and weak demand, alongside variable supply disruptions, global insulated metallic wire and cable consumption has started to stabilise and shows signs of bottoming out.
Demand is once again dominated by the recovery story in China, which accounts for more than 35% of total world cable demand and 91% of the net demand upgrade CRU has made between April and July.
Outside of China, cable demand in Europe and North America also improved, albeit gradually as economies reopen. Though the situation in India, South America and Africa remain critical, as the ongoing pandemic continues to impede their economic activities and the wire and cable industry is simply not exempt from those impacts.
CRU’s in-house economics team forecast world GDP and IP to contract 4.7% and 5.4% y/y, respectively in 2020, with the assumptions that lockdowns across major economies will end in Q3 and there is no sizable second outbreak. This forecast implies the plunge in total world economy will be sharper than during the peak of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2009 (where GDP contracted by -1.4% y/y), whilst the downturn in industrial activities will be less severe (was -8.0% y/y).
As such, we forecast world insulated metallic wire and cable demand will decline by 5.3% y/y, reaching just shy of 18.0 Mt conductors this year. Indisputably, this will be the sharpest contraction since the GFC, but not as acute as the 7.6% y/y plummet back then.
In the mid-term, the recovery will vary across regions, although we do not expect cable demand to reach 2019’s level again until 2022, in terms of conductor tonnes. Power cable will grow the fastest during this time horizon supported by the electricity grid, renewables and infrastructure developments.