PREVIEW: Alacero conference to focus on China, global economy

Global economic conditions, steel overcapacity and the impact of China will be the main themes at next week's Latin American Steel Congress in Mexico City, organised by regional steel association Alacero.

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At the beginning of October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised downward its growth forecast for the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2014 and 2015.

For the overall Latin America and the Caribbean region, GDP is now expected to rise by 1.3% in 2014, compared with a previous forecast of 2%.

The IMF also predicts the regional economy will  grow by 2.2% in 2015, down from July's prediction of a 2.6%.

Brazil – Latin America’s largest steel producer – is expected to see its GDP expand by just 0.3% this year, compared with IMF’s July forecast of a 1.3% growth.

Mexico's economic output, meanwhile, is estimated to grow by 2.4% this year, before rising by 3.5% in 2015, according to the IMF.

“We see Mexico reporting slightly better results [than the other countries in the region], with growth levels in the near future [exceeding] the increases seen in the last 20 years,” Alacero general director Rafael Rubio told Steel First.

This positive expectation is largely due to the energy reforms recently approved in Mexico, which have been stimulating the local economy and steel demand, he said.

“[Ultimately], 2014 has been a bad year [for Latin America overall and] is a year to forget,” Rubio said.

Two-day event
More than 800 delegates are expected to attend the two-day event, which begins on Monday November 10.

Martín Berardi, president of Alacero and general director at Ternium Siderar, will deliver the opening speech.

Oxford Economics senior Latin America economist Ayram Vasquez will debate the global economy in 2015, while the executive director of Mexico’s Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, will comment on the energy landscape in the country.

And Deacero ceo Raúl Gutiérrez Muguerza will co-ordinate a panel aimed at discussing how the new economic policy of China will affect Latin America.

“China continues to be a relevant topic, in terms of macro-economy and the steel market,” Rubio said.

Finished steel export volumes from China to Latin America rose by 54% year-on-year in the first eight months of 2014, to 5.4 million tonnes, according to the latest data published by Alacero.

Ternium ceo Daniel Novegil will chair a panel discussion on innovation and technology, while ArcelorMittal Long Carbon Americas ceo Jefferson de Paula will co-ordinate a panel discussion on the steel industry’s competitiveness challenge between raw materials and customers.

“The Alacero event will have delegates from the whole steel chain,” said Rubio.

Senior executives from the World Steel Association (Worldsteel), Deloitte, Danieli, SMS Siemag, General Motors and Raw Materials Group (RMG) will also deliver speeches.

On the second day, Latin America’s senior executive will talk about their visions for the regional industry's future.

Gerdau ceo André Gerdau Johannpeter and ArcelorMittal Brasil ceo Benjamin Baptista Filho will be part of a panel focused on Latin America, excluding Mexico.

And a special panel to discuss the Mexican steel sector will be attended by Ahmsa president Alonso Ancira Elizondo, ArcelorMittal Mexico ceo Víctor Cairo, Ternium Mexico executive president Máximo Vedoya, Tenaris administration board vp Guillermo Vogel, Deacero ceo Raúl Gutiérrez and Autlán president José Antonio Rivero.

“These last two panels will work like a round table,” Rubio said.

Besides the discussion panels, the Alacero event includes a business fair called ExpoAlacero, where steelmakers and firms linked to the steel value chain – including Steel First – will be represented.

“Networking is also an important part of the congress,” Rubio added.

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