The trade war between China and the United States has affected the Middle East region because those countries that cannot export to the US are redirecting their products to the Middle East, Al-Zahrani said during a panel discussion session at Fastmarkets MB’s Middle East Iron and Steel Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

As a result, steel producers in the region need to diversify their product range, Al-Zahrani said, adding that the governments of the Middle East need to act quickly to avoid dumped steel targeting the region.

“The future of the steel sector is in flat steel products,” he said, noted that the Middle East region has enough capacity for long products but is still an importer of flat steels, especially hot-rolled coil.

The only HRC producer in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is Hadeed Sabic (2 million tonnes per year) and there are no plate producers in the region.

The new investment product could be plate or HRC, Fastmarkets MB heard from participants on the sidelines of the event.

Hadeed Sabic has 6 million tpy crude steel production capacity and 4 million tonnes for billet, with the rest for slab. The company produces billet, slab, rebar, wire rod, HRC, cold-rolled coil, hot-dipped galvanized coil and pre-painted galvanized coil.

Demand for HRC and other steel products is not strong in Saudi Arabia but is expected to improve in 2021, Saudi National Committee for Steel Industry rebar director Ahmed Al-Hussain said.

Fastmarkets MBs weekly price assessment for Saudi Arabia HRC imports was $530-540 per tonne cfr on December 11, unchanged from the previous week.