The 00's was a decade of financial woes in the West. First, the 'dot-com bubble' burst. Then markets underwent a mini-collapse. A strong recovery followed between 2003 and 2007, until the mortgage cave-in led to the 2008 financial disaster. In Asia, however, the situation was very different, and a booming China emerged as a major world economic power. China's steel production also rose dramatically in the decade from 128.5 Mt in 2000 to 638.7 Mt in 2010, an annualised growth rate of approximately 17.4%.
In 2001, 178 nations approved the Kyoto Protocol global warming treaty. Soon after, major natural disasters, including the terrible tsunami in Asia and Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, provided deadly reminders of Earth's fragility.
The Indian Ocean tsunami, which destroyed countless structures across 14 countries, had a major impact on future building design. The growing demand for safer construction relied heavily on steel. By continuously improving its properties over the decades, steel had been giving architects more building for less steel. Even so, limits were being reached in improvements to existing steel production processes. So the steel industry turned its attention to 'breakthrough technology'. Real innovations were – and still are – needed to make significant advances in steelmaking.
Industry consolidation was also a feature of the decade, notably Tata acquiring Corus and Arcelor and Mittal Steel combining to form ArcelorMittal. The ULSAB family of consortiums evolved to become WorldAutoSteel and a new customer focused programme – FutureSteelVehicle – was launched.
worldsteel celebrated many 'firsts' during the 00's. In 2002, steeluniversity went online. This was followed in 2006 with the launch of our online steelmaking challenge, now an annual event. In 2004, we published one of the world's first industry sustainability reports. In 2006, our safety and health principles were agreed and this was followed by the launch of our Safety and Health Recognition Programme in 2008.
Nucor of the US became our first solely EAF member, and Severstal the first Russian member. We also welcomed our first members from China – Anshan, Baosteel, Handan, Shougang, Wuhan – as well as the China Iron and Steel Association, and in 2006 we opened a new office in Beijing, China. In 2008 we enhanced our identity, as IISI became the World Steel Association.