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“Turkey is in the best position to supply steel exports into the Mena [Middle East, North Africa] region. Consumption in the Mena area is forecast to continue growing, given the youth of its population and its rapid expansion,” she said in a presentation published by the Turkish Steel Producers’ Assn (DCUD).

The eastern Mediterranean region is important for exports into Mena thanks to short delivery times, product quality and its developed industry.

“To increase business with the Mena region, railway lines should be built, professional market research should be carried out, customs bureaucracy should be navigated more quickly, and peace-focused politics should be practised,” Ustunay said.

Railway links are very important to ensure that exports into the Mena region can be achieved more quickly and easily. This is especially important for the transportation of flat products, which require more care than other steel products, Ustunay explained.

“We face many bureaucratic difficulties with customs documentation, which lengthen delivery times. This may outweigh our geographical advantage in our export markets,” she added.

The Iskenderun region in southern Turkey is home to companies which produce a combined 15% share of the country’s total rebar, billet and hot rolled coil (HRC) exports, according to customs data.

With all steel products included, the Iskenderun region provides one-quarter of Turkey’s total exports, Ustunay added.

Most steel product exports from the eastern Mediterranean, where there are several countries which are net steel exporters, go to the Mena region.

Despite the fact that Mena’s own steel production capacity has doubled in the past decade, its consumption has grown faster and its steel imports have increased to 28 million tpy from 14.5 million tpy over the past ten years.