HIGHLIGHTS: SEAISI worries over China imports; Asean demand up; dramatic iron ore price drop

Editor Vera Blei looks at the main news covered by Steel First this week.

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Senior executives from the leading steel companies across Southeast Asia gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week.

Concerns about the relentless product flow from China out into the region and preventive trade actions dominated many of the discussions at the South East Asian Iron & Steel Institute (Seaisi) conference.

Yet Hiroshi Tomono, chairman of the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF), warned that steps such as anti-dumping duties, countervailing duties and safeguards make domestic mills uncompetitive in the long run, and will eventually harm domestic industries.

Instead, he encouraged the industry to engage with trade partners through bilateral dialogue in order to secure sustainable development of the steel industry in Southeast Asia.

Outgoing Seaisi chairman Chow Chong Long told the industry to move toward producing higher end products as a long-term approach to remaining competitive.

Roberto Cola, president of the Philippines Iron & Steel Institute, was appointed Seaisi chairman for a two-year term.

Despite the challenges that the steel industry faces, the Assn of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region remains a key growth area. Apparent steel consumption reached almost 65 million tonnes in 2013 and demand is expected to surpass 70 million tonnes in 2015.

Search for “SEAISI” to find all our stories from the conference.

At the upstream end of the industry, iron ore spot prices took another beating this week.

Metal Bulletin’s Iron Ore Index for 62% Fe material finished the week at $91.33 per tonne cfr Qingdao, a drop of around $7 from last week and down by a total of $43.56 per tonne since the beginning of the year.

What’s next for the price of iron ore? Steel First put the question to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Widmer.

In the end-user segment, we looked at Brazil where consumption of steel cans is expected to rise by 2-3% this year, driven by demand from the beverage and wall-paint sectors.

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Tweet @Steel_First or email editorial@steelfirst.com with your views on iron ore prices and steel margins.

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