06 November 2020
Corporate News

Tata Steel's Industry Panel Forum

Industry panel forum

What impact is the coronavirus crisis having on the steel industry and its customer markets, and how can they respond? What about the challenges of globalisation, sustainability and digitalisation? These were key topics at the Tata Steel hosted live panel forum event called Let's talk about the future. Speakers included international experts from the steel, automotive and heavy vehicle industries.

With the theme Let's talk about the future, industry experts, decision-makers and thought-leaders from four EU countries and China came together on 22 October live at the Tata Steel studio in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, and via video. Watch the full event here.

With host Karl Haider, Chief Commercial Officer of Tata Steel Europe, and moderator and trend researcher Markus Moll from the steel consultancy SMR, four other industry experts were represented on the panel:  Edwin Basson, Director General of worldsteel from Brussels, Michel Van Hoey, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company in Luxembourg, Alex Woodrow, Managing Director at the management consultancy Knibb, Gormezano and Partners in the UK and an expert on the commercial vehicle sector, and US-born automotive specialist Bill Russo, CEO of Automobility Ltd. and Chairman of the Automotive Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

The panel discussion was introduced with a debate on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the steel industry. While global steel production has shrunk by only around 2% in 2020 due to a fast recovery in Chinese demand, the picture differs across regions and industries. While Tata Steel has even been able to experience a slight uptick in its packaging segment in 2020 – mainly as a result of changes in European consumer habits – in other product areas such the automotive and off-highway sectors, like its competitors, it has had to respond to a downturn in demand. Edwin Basson of worldsteel estimates the recovery of the industry will take place more quickly than expected, although a return to 2019 demand levels will probably take 18 to 24 months.

The automotive and off-highway vehicle industries in particular faced a sudden and almost complete drop-off in global markets. However, none of the experts believe this calls globalisation into question. Manufacturers would typically have to reevaluate their approach and involve more regional suppliers in their portfolio.

“We have learned as much in the past five months as we’d normally learn in five years, and at the moment we are still driving by sight, so to speak," said Karl, about the changes experienced during the pandemic. "We knew we were already pretty flexible, but we have to all become even more agile. This doesn’t mean totally new ideas. Rather, existing initiatives to digitalise the industry now need to be pushed forward.” 

Karl Haider, Tata Steel Chief Commercial Officer
Let's talk about the future Event 2020
Markus Moll of SMR GmbH
Let's talk about the future Event 2020
Huib Simon at Let's talk about the future 2020 event