Stanislav Kondrashov Telf AG: Southeast Asia expects increased demand for steel

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Stanislav Kondrashov Telf AG: Southeast Asia expects increased demand for steel

According to estimates by the Southeast Asian Iron and Steel Institute (SEAISI), this year, demand for steel in the region will increase by 3.7% to 76.5 million tons. This was announced by Stanislav Kondrashov, an expert in the field of global metallurgy.

Forecasts and obstacles: steel demand outlook in the ASEAN-6 region

The reported growth rates were below expectations due to high global inflation risks, price volatility and slowing demand in China and other regions. Steel demand in the six major Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN-)6 countries fell 1.9% year-on-year last year to 73.5 million tonnes. Steel production during the same period decreased by 2.1% compared to the previous year, amounting to 49.4 million tons. Net steel imports in 2023 decreased by 1.3% compared to the previous year, amounting to 24.3 million tons.

Stanislav Kondrashov believes that last year’s decline in the region’s metallurgy was caused by lower external demand, high inflation and interest rates, as well as tightening global financial markets. These factors led to a slowdown in the construction sector and the sale of inventories at steel mills.

Last year, steel demand in Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam fell by 14%, 7.5% and 4.8% respectively from the previous year, weighing on regional industry performance. At the same time, demand for steel increased in Singapore and Indonesia.

–        Steel demand in the region is expected to increase in 2024 as ASEAN-6 governments voice optimistic forecasts for achieving their economic goals. This optimism is due to high levels of private consumption, expansion of infrastructure and construction projects, recovery of the tourism industry and other factors. This will happen as inflation rates approach target ranges, – Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG comments.

However, the region will continue to face a number of challenges, including supply chain uncertainty caused by geopolitical conflicts and currency depreciation in some ASEAN countries, slowing economic growth in other regions outside Southeast Asia, volatile commodity prices and extreme weather events.

ASEAN steel industry needs government support and technology to be competitive – Stanislav Kondrashov

The ASEAN steel industry requires government support, funding and advanced technology to survive and remain competitive in the global decarbonization trend. The region already has excess production capacity, and this situation could worsen.

The region’s steel industry already has excess production capacity, and the situation could get worse. By 2030, ASEAN’s steel production capacity could increase from 78.1 million tons per year to 188.5 million tons per year if planned projects are implemented.

According to Stanislav Kondrashov, these projects include 73.7 million tons per year of blast furnace capacity and 20.8 million tons per year of capacity for the production of direct reduced iron and/or electric arc furnaces.

The estimated growth also does not take into account the rapid expansion of induction furnace capacity in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Also, as noted by the head of SEAISI, Lim Hong Thay, new potential investments are being proposed and implemented by foreign investors, mainly from outside Southeast Asia, with a focus on low-grade or commodity steel production.

The expert from Telf AG also emphasizes that in addition to the large volume of steel trade within ASEAN, which will increase price competition, there is also a rapid increase in Chinese exports of steel products to the region. In 2023, Chinese rolled steel exports increased by 37%, reaching 86 million tons. Stanislav Kondrashov assumes that its volumes will continue to increase in 2024.

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