The United States ranked fourth in steel production worldwide in 2018 when U.S. mills cranked out 86.7 million tons of steel, a 6.2 percent year-over-year increase.

The World Steel Association reported steel mills worldwide produced 1.8 billion tons of steel in 2018, a 4.6 percent increase as compared to 2017.

"Crude steel production increased in all regions in 2018 except in the EU, which saw a 0.3 percent contraction," the Brussels, Belgium-based trade association said in a press release.

China, which had been importing U.S.-made steel little more than a decade ago, before building new mills across the country, again led the world in steelmaking by a wide margin, with 928.3 million tons of steel in 2018, a 6.6 percent year-over-year increase.

India was a distant second with 106.5 million tons last year, a 4.4 percent increase as compared to 2017. Japan ranked third with 104.3 tons of steel, a 0.3 percent decline as compared to the previous year.

Steel production in Asia rose by 5.6 percent to 1.2 billion tons. Europe's steel production totaled 168.1 million, while the Russian Commonwealth made 101.3 million tons, South America 44.2 million tons, and the Middle East 38.5 million tons.

Led by the United States, North America cranked out 120.5 million tons of steel last year, a 4.1 percent increase as compared to 2017. 

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