|From the CEO's Desk
If one looks at the Indian steel production figures for last two months
or so, they are clearly showing some signs of recovery. Of course, this
does not mean that the industry is back on track and has started
functioning in a normal way. At the same time, this does mean that not
only the iron & steel industry, but the industry as a whole is
responding well to various measures taken by the government and we can
expect more recovery in coming months.
The story in the other parts of the world, especially in Europe and US
is different. As such the steel demand in these regions was already
stagnated before the meltdown and a lot of capacities were getting
unviable due to stagnant markets and ever rising operating costs. This
situation forced many mills to change the ownership structure and few
others even had to close down. All this happened before mid 2008 and the
meltdown came as the last nail in the coffin. Even today, the analysts
are not sure whether the industry in these regions has reached the
bottom and when the actual recovery will start.
The situation in the Middle East and SE Asia is some what better than
Europe and America. Though there is a slow down, the industrial activity
has not come to standstill. It is expected that the recovery will start
in the first half of 2010 but will take atleast 2 years to regain the
production levels of 2008.
Today, industry experts are debating on whether the recovery curve will
be V shaped or U shaped. While most of them agree that in case of US and
Europe, it will be U shaped with long flat bottoms, it is expected that
in Asian region it will be somewhat like V shape. It is also believed
that the next investment boom in steel sector will be in India as it
will be one of the first countries to overcome slowdown.
In my opinion, a lot depends on when the steel projects restart and with
what speed they move forward !!!.
Editor & CEO
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Evo Tech P. Ltd.
Indiana Machine Tools
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Metal Power Analytical (I) P.Ltd.
Asian Metallurgy 2009
H & K Rolling Mill Engineers P. Ltd.
Tata Steel's output up 14% in 2008-09
The leading private sector
steel producer, Tata Steel posted its production surged by nearly 14
percent to 6.25 million tons in 2008-09 fiscal on the back of robust
demand from sectors like auto and construction. In 2007-08, the
company's hot metal production stood at 5.50 million tons, said a
company release. During the fiscal under review, the world's sixth
largest steel producer also saw its sales volumes rise by 9 percent to
5.23 million tons as against 4.78 million tons. The sale of long
products, mainly used in construction sector, increased by 25 percent to
2 million tons from the earlier 1.60 million tons. In the segment of
flat products, used by sectors like automobile and consumer durables,
the company saw a marginal 1.25 percent rise in output at 3.22 million
tons. Overall, Tata Steel's saleable steel production grew by 11 percent
to 5.37 million tons from 4.85 million tons. Its crude steel output too
went up by 13 percent to 5.64 million tons as compared to 5.01 million
tons. The steel major's production and sales volumes registered an
impressive double-digit growth in March also. Its saleable steel output
increased by a maximum of 28 percent to 5.7 lakh tons while hot metal
and crude steel volumes went up by 20 and 17 percent, respectively.
NMDC surpasses production target
State-run mining giant National Mineral
Development Corporation (NMDC) has surpassed the production target set
by the government for 2008-09 even as its sales volumes dipped over six
percent amid reduced intake by the steel sector. As against the MoU
(memorandum of understanding) target of 28.4 million tons for the fiscal
that just ended, the Navratna PSU produced 28.9 million tons of iron
ore. Despite the gloomy scenario of iron ore for three to four months
starting August last year, NMDC managed to do well in terms of
production. Even as the company marginally exceeded the MoU target, its
production dipped by about five percent to 28.4 million tons compared to
29.8 million tons in the year-ago period. Sales too declined by 6.43
percent to 26.4 million tons as against 28.1 million tons, primarily
because steel companies like Essar, JSW and RINL reduced the offtake of
iron ore in the third quarter of the fiscal amid a slump in demand. In
terms of exports, the country's largest iron ore producer shipped 3.87
million tons of the mineral. Of this, nearly three million tons was
supplied to the Japanese and South Korean steel mills on long-term
contracts while the rest to Chinese buyers on spot prices.
Jindal sees demand rising in next fiscal
The country major steelmakers are expecting a
revival of demand following improved demand from construction and
“Steel sector is now doing quite well. There is an overall growth in
demand for steel. It is a positive sign,” JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and MD
Sajjan Jindal said. The global economic recession has pulled down steel
demand and production. However, the country's largest private steel
producer expects demand to improve by 4-5 percent in the next fiscal.
“This whole year, we will see a slight growth in steel demand, may be by
4-5 percent as steel consumption increases,” Jindal said. Ruling out any
changes in price structure, Jindal said, “Domestic steel prices have
already come down. We are already more or less bottomed out. Do not talk
about pushing it further down,” he said. Supporting sentiments, other
domestic steel makers such as Essar Steel and VISA Steel said they
expect the improving trend to continue during the next fiscal.
SAIL targets 12 mln tons steel in FY10
State-run producer Steel Authority of India
Ltd (SAIL) will produce 12 million tons saleable steel for 2009/10 and
is expected to post Rs 400 billion revenue in the fiscal year. Last
month, SAIL Chairman S. K. Roongta said the company may slightly fall
short of its production target of 13 million tons for 2008/09.
India, the world's fifth-largest steel producer, makes about 53 million
tons a year. Steel output rose 1.3 percent in the first 11 months of
2008/09 to 51.50 million tons, government data showed.
Essar steel sets up processing facility in Chennai
Essar Steel has set up a steel processing
facility, with a capacity of 2.5 lakh tons per annum, at Oragadam near
Chennai with an investment of Rs 75 crore. The unit was inaugurated by
Bank of India CMD T S Narayanasami, in the presence of Essar group
chairman Shashi Ruia.
The facility will enable Essar to sell customized steel according to
company requirements as opposed to raw steel. "This unit will cater to
users ranging from auto and auto-component industries, through white
goods to SME segments in south India, apart from supplying to Essar
steel hypermart customers," said Essar steel sales and marketing
executive director Vikram Amin.
The Sriperumbudur - Oragadam belt is Chennai's largest industrial hub,
with over 22 Fortune 500 companies operating, of which six are global
car manufacturers. Among industries in Tamil Nadu, only few global
manufacturing units like Hyundai's have a captive steel-processing unit.
"Hyundai is our existing customer and we have roped in auto-majors like
Ashok Leyland and Wheels India into our client base now," a company
spokesperson said. Essar, which presently sells 20,000 tons per month in
Tamil Nadu, aims to increase its volumes to 25-30,000 tons through the
The company has a 4.6 MTPA manufacturing cum processing plant in Hazira,
supporting its operation here. It is soon to inaugurate processing units
in Pune and Bahadurgarh near Delhi as well. The Oragadam plant's
cold-rolled units are in operation already. Its hot-rolled units will
start running in two months.
Usha Martin bags European steel relief
The European Union scrapped a 23.8 percent
tariff on steel ropes made by India's Usha Martin Ltd., helping the
company's exports and exposing EU producers including ArcelorMittal to
more competition. The EU lowered the duty to zero after concluding that
Usha Martin stopped below cost or 'dumped' shipments of steel wire ropes
to the 27-nation bloc from India. The company has restructured,
diversified and improved productivity, according to the EU, which also
said European import prices of steel wire ropes from India have
increased since 2004. The verdict, came in favour of Usha martin, is the
outcome of a 15-month probe by the European Commission, the bloc's trade
authority in Brussels. Indian exporters of steel ropes and cables face
European anti-dumping duties of as much as 30.8 percent. The EU
introduced the trade protection in 1999 and prolonged it for five years
in November 2005. Until January 2006, Usha Martin was exempt from its
23.8 percent levy in return for a promise to sell at or above minimum
prices and prove compliance through quarterly reports on exports. The EU
withdrew the exemption three years ago after saying the company breached
the minimum-price agreement. Since 1999, the EU has also imposed
anti-dumping duties at different rates on steel ropes and cables from
China, South Africa and Ukraine .
JSL to fund Orissa project through Rs 500-cr borrowing
The country's largest stainless steel
producer, JSL Ltd has decided to raise up to Rs 500 crore to part fund
the second phase of its Rs 5,700-crore Orissa project. The company is
mulling over different fund raising instruments like rights issue,
FCCBs/ global depository receipts (GDRs)/ American depository receipts
(ADRs) to fund the likely deficit, though it maintained the financial
closure for the project has been achieved. It has recently declared
financial closure for the project. Of the Rs 5,700 crore required for
the second phase of the proposed 1.6-MTPA stainless steel plant in
Orissa, JSL has raised about Rs 4,400-4,500 crore debt, while the rest
would be borne by the promoter and the company's internal accruals. The
promoters' equity worth Rs 200-250 crore is already in place and the
fund to be raised would meet the likely shortfall in the firm's internal
accruals on account of losses suffered amidst the global industrial
downturn. The Ratan Jindal-led company reported successive losses in the
last two quarters of the 2008-09 fiscal. In the current fiscal, however,
it expects the domestic stainless steel industry to register a 7 to 8
percent growth rate on the back of robust demand from consuming sectors.
Demand has improved mainly from the infrastructure side. JSL hopes that
FY'10 will be better than FY'09 for stainless sector, which is likely to
grow at 7-8 percent. Hit by a slackening demand, the company has delayed
commissioning of the eight lakh ton unit in Orissa, which will now come
in operations by mid-2011. Earlier, the unit was to commence production
by 2010-end. The company has already commissioned a 250-MW power plant
while it is undertaking trial runs for the 4.25-lakh-ton coke oven unit,
as part of the project. The 2.5-lakh tons ferro-manganese and
ferro-chrome units have already been commissioned.
Import duty abolition on card
The government is considering abolition of a 5
percent of import tax on iron and steel after the general election in
the country scheduled in April and May, a ministry source hinted. The
sources said the duty could be phased out in the next one to two months
as the domestic industry has started to recover and would not be
adversely affected by the move. India had imposed the import duty in
November on specified steel and iron products to protect domestic
producers in the face of falling commodity prices. The government is
considering demands from domestic steel makers for anti-dumping duties
on cheap steel inputs from countries including China.
Steel imports decline 18% in 2008-09
The country's steel imports dipped by about 18
percent in the 2008-09 fiscal amid slackening demand, a development that
may weaken the industry's case for more tax barriers on cheap arrivals
of the commodity. The finished steel imports declined to 5.7 million
tons during the fiscal ended March 31 as compared to seven million tons
in the year-ago period, provisional data of the Steel Ministry said. Not
only did the imports decline, but exports too took a beating and fell by
26 percent to 3.7 million tons from the previous year's 5 mn tons. Even
as the government levied an import duty of five per cent on certain
steel products last year, leading producers like Essar, JSW and Ispat
have filed petition for the levy of anti-dumping duty on items
originating from China, Ukraine and a few other countries. “In volume
terms, the steel quantity shipped to India may have declined in the
fiscal, but what is damaging the domestic industry is the low price at
which steel is being imported,” a senior industry official said while
advocating for more tax curbs on imports. Hot-rolled coil, a vital steel
item used by industries, is being shipped for as low as $400 a ton as
against the peak of over $1,100 a ton in June last year. Even as imports
and exports of steel items declined in the last fiscal, the annual
production by domestic companies rose 0.6 percent to 56.3 million tons
as against 56 million tons a year ago.
Tata Steel plans to revive Corus output
The country's leading steel producer Tata
Steel may partly revise its recent production cut at its UK based
subsidiary Corus, as some positive signs are being seen in demand in
Citing Tata Son's director J. J. Irani, a report said, “Global steel
demand has not yet improved considerably but we are seeing some signs of
an industrial revival in Europe. If this trend continues, we will look
at rolling back output cut at Corus." However, he also said stocking of
steel by some traders in Europe, which could fuel demand. According to a
Tata Steel spokesperson, Corus had cut steel output by 40 percent in due
to demand slowdown in the wake of the global economic meltdown.
Essar Steel to commission Minnesota plant by 2011
Private steel maker, Essar Steel plans to
start the first phase of production from its proposed USD 1.1 billion
steel plant at Minnesota in the US by 2011. The activities being pursued
by Essar Steel Minnesota LLC (ESML), part of Essar Steel Holdings Ltd,
far enable the project to be on schedule and produce iron ore pellets in
2011. Since the ground break, Essar has accomplished several milestones
relating to the project such as site survey, soil investigation,
commencement of de-watering of mine pits and site grading related
activities. Besides iron ore mining and production, the proposed project
will have a 4-million tonne pellet plant, a DRI (direct reduced iron)
unit and steel making facilities. In the second phase, a slab-making
unit would also come up. The steel major plans to consume iron pellets
and other allied products from its Minnesota unit for the Algoma plant
in the US. So far, the company has invested in the project from its
internal accruals, but is now looking at finance options from
institutions in Canada, US and Europe.
ArcelorMittal may cut size, investment of India projects in
Due to decline in steel demand, the world's
largest steelmaker ArcelorMilttal may half the size and slash its
investment for the first phase of its Rs 1,00,000-crore projects in
The company also sees a delay of at least two years in commencing
production in from its proposed plants of capacity 12 million tons per
annum (MTPA) in Jharkhand and Orissa each.
"Initially we were thinking of putting six million tons per annum steel
plant in phase one. We may (now) put up smaller plants ... we could cut
the size to 3 MTPA in each phase due to the slump in steel demand and
other issues, including land acquisition problems in India. "Investments
could naturally come down in the same proportion," ArcelorMittal India
CEO Vijay Bhatnagar said. He, however, clarified that overall plan to
reach 12 MTPA capacity at each plant in Orissa and Jharkhand has not
Bhatnagar said that due to slow land acquisition for the projects and
global downturn, in the company would overshoot the 2012 deadline to
commence production in India.
Tata Steel to set start production in South Africa
Tata Steel, the world's sixth largest steel
company, has secured equity interest in an iron ore deposit in South
Africa, from which it expects to mine 2 million tons of ore a year
“The Sedibang mine (in South Africa) is a small one, which has a reserve
of about 50 million tons,” Tata Steel's managing director B. Muthuraman
said. The company will be sharing the reserves of the deposit with other
partner, whom the company did not name. The ore it mines in South Africa
will be exported to the manufacturing units of Corus, Tata Steel's
subsidiary in Europe. Tata Steel also expects to mine 4 million tons of
iron ore in Canada and 5-6 million tons of coal in Mozambique starting
next year, Muthuraman added. In the current year, Tata Steel expects to
save up to a $1 billion at the manufacturing facilities of Corus by
reducing manpower, cutting bonuses and restructuring operations. In
fiscal 2009, Corus managed to cut $650-700 million in costs, according
Capacity utilization at the European units, however, is expected to be
at 67 percent in the current fiscal, slightly lower than fiscal 2009 in
which it was 75 percent. The first two quarters are going to be
difficult, during which capacity utilization could be as low as 54-65
percent, Muthuraman said.
In India, Tata Steel has placed orders for installing a new furnace,
which will raise the production capacity at its Jamshedpur factory by 3
million tons to 10 million tons a year. The new furnace, which would be
commissioned in April 2011, would cost around Rs15, 000 crore. The
company will pay for it fully out of its own cash flows. “We have fully
provided for it… it is expected to be a 40 percent EBIDTA (earnings
before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization, which is a
measure of operating cash flow) project,” said Muthuraman.
Speaking about his company's much delayed Orissa project, Muthuraman
said work at the project site was expected to start after general
elections. Tata Steel had already started conducting soil tests, and had
also installed a fabrication unit at the factory site. Admitting that
the project has been delayed by over two years, Muthuraman claimed he
was sure iron ore mines would be allotted to his company for the Orissa
Though he refused to reveal his outlook on steel prices in the current
fiscal, Muthuraman said for integrated steel plants, production cost
could go down by $200 (Rs9,982) per ton in 2009-10. But that might not
benefit Tata Steel, which mines iron ore from captive deposits, as much
as it would other players that do not have iron ore linkage. To be sure,
coking coal has become cheaper, and that is likely going to shore up
Tata Steel's margins.
Ion Exchange India bags Rs.126 cr order from NTPC-TNEB JV
Ion Exchange (India) Ltd bagged a Rs 126 crore
contract to set up a Sea Water Reserve Osmosis (SWRO) plant for NPTC
Tamil Nadu Energy Company Ltd (NTECL), a joint venture between public
sector firm National Thermal Power Corporation (NPTC) and Tamil Nadu
Electricity Board (TNEB).
The 3x275 m3/h SWRO plant for the 3x500 MW thermal power plant at Vallur
near Chennai will treat processed sea water to give demineralised water
for use in the boiler drum for steam generation. Its key features
include salt rejection ranging from 90% to 98% and product recovery
ranging from 5 percent to 80 percent based on feed water composition. A
small part of the reverse osmosis water will also be used as drinking
Winning the global bid for one of the most prestigious projects in
recent times demonstrates customer confidence in Ion Exchange India
through its selection for the first NTPC SWRO plant for their power
Tata Steel's growth in positive terrain leaving rest behind
Tata Steel, India's leading steel producer
posted a 12.6 percent growth in output during the fiscal that ended. The
world's sixth largest steel maker has beaten its counterparts like SAIL,
RINL, JSW and Essar to producer 5.6 million tons of crude steel even as
the other slipped into negative terrain amid slackening demand. While
Tata steel's crude steel production increased by 0.6 million tons from 5
million tons in the year-ago period, that state-run SAIL dipped by 3.9
percent to 13.4 million tons, according to released date from Ministry
In 2007-08, the country's largest public sector steel maker SAIL's crude
steel production reached at 13 million tons. But weakening demand from
end user sectors like automobile and constructions, all major Indian
steel makers registered a sharp fall in production in 2008-09.
JSW Steel's crude production slipped by 1.4 percent to 3.1 million tons
as against the previous year's 3.14 million tons. Essar Steel too
witnessed about 10 percent dip in output at 3.2 million tons from 3.5
million tons while Ispat Industries recorded the highest 19.3 percent
fall in output at 2.2 million tons from 2.8 million tons.
Steel units better placed for expansion: Rastogi
Greenfield capacity expansions will reemerge
sooner in India compared with other countries due to clear signs of
demand prospects, said Steel Secretary P. K. Rastogi. Speaking at a
conference Rastogi said, “Indian steel industry has weathered the
financial storm reasonably well. The Q4 numbers on production and
consumption of steel is a clear indication of the resilience and
strength of our steel industry.”
Rastogi said that the primary factor was the expectations of a 5 to 7
percent GDP growth in 2008-09 and possibilities of GDP returning to a
higher growth trajectory during the current fiscal.
Second, with capital formation and savings rate continuing at levels
exceeding 30 percent there would be higher elasticity of steel demand
with respect to growth in GDP.
Third, the thrust on infrastructure in the XI Plan is expected to boost
steel demand. And finally, the lower rate of inflation would offer room
for aggressive price cuts and provide a fillip to investment and
However, SK Roongta chairman of SAIL cautioned against a “euphoric
response” and urged steelmakers to adopt a collaborative approach
towards demand creation, sharing of best practices, skill development,
environmental protection and beneficiation of raw materials.
SAIL's sales rise on rural demand
Steel Authority of India Ltd., the nation's
second-biggest steelmaker, recorded a rise in volume sales of more than
10 percent last quarter as demand grew in the nation's villages and
small towns, Chairman S.K. Roongta said.
The company expects to sustain demand by expanding its rural
distribution network, Roongta said. Sales in the January-to-March period
may exceed the 3 million metric tons sold a year earlier, Finance
Director Soiles Bhattacharya had said.
Indian demand for steel is beating a global slump after prices more than
halved since June and rural incomes grew as the government raised the
price it paid farmers for wheat and cotton. Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh's government approved 700 billion rupees of projects since August
to build roads, ports and highways, according to the commerce ministry.
Steel consumption in the country rose 3.8 percent and production
increased 1.2 percent in the last quarter, Steel Secretary Pramod
Rastogi said at the conference. Rural housing and infrastructure will
continue to boost demand, he said.
Steel Authority, which sold 12.3 million tons in the last fiscal year,
expects India's current five-year plan to require 45 million tons of
steel for infrastructure, Roongta said.
India mulling 15% duty on HR steel imports
Indian Government is seeking for a safeguard
duty of up to 15 percent o certain steel items to protect the domestic
industry against cheap imports.
Citing a government official a report said that endorsing the industry's
concern that surge in steel import is affecting the domestic market, the
government has initiated an investigation and will soon decided on
quantum of safeguard duty to be levied on products like hot rolled,
sheets and strips.
The official added , "The safeguard investigation has been initiated for
HR coils and a few other steel products. If recommended, the duty could
be in the range of 10 percent to 15 percent.
Bhushan Steel enhances Orissa plant capacity
Bhushan Steel Limited, a Delhi-based steel
company, has increased its output capacity at its integrated steel plant
in Orissa five times to 2.5 million tons. The plant mainly produces hot
rolled coils (HRC), now will operate at increased capacity from
September this year.
The HR products are used for making cold rolled coils (CRC), which in
turn are mainly used by automobile and consumer sectors.
The Orissa plant was merely producing 0.5 million tons of HR steel so
far, which wasn't enough to meet the entire captive requirements. The
facility has been expanded and will be fully operational in the next 5-6
months,” said Bhushan Steel director (finance) Nittin Johri. The
company's annual cold rolled steel making capacity is currently close to
0.9 million tons. Investments worth Rs 7,000 crore have been made for
boosting the plant capacity by 2 million tons. A 450-mw power plant has
also been set up to meet captive power requirements. “Close to 75
percent of the total HR produced at this unit will be used for captive
purposes and the remaining 25 percent will be sold to the domestic
secondary steel makers,” Johri said. Bhushan Steel plans to expand the
capacity of its Orissa plant to 5 million tons by 2012 at an investment
of nearly Rs 8,000 crore. The expansion will be funded through a mix of
debt and internal accruals.
Tata Steel sales up 47% in Feb
Tata Steel sales increased by 47 percent to
5.84 lakh tons in February 2009 compared with 3.97 lakh tons during the
corresponding month in 2008.
Production of hot metal rose 19 percent at 5.17 lakh tons (4.36 lakh
tons), crude steel 12 per cent at 4.66 lakh tons (4.17 lakh tons) and
saleable steel 21 percent at 4.98 lakh tons (4.10 lakh tons).
Tata Steel said this February saw a 65 percent increase in long product
and 37 percent rise in flat product sales. The steel melting shops
recorded their best-ever February production of crude steel at 4.66 lakh
Vizag Steel plans 3.3-mtpa expansion
Rashtriya Ispat Nigam
(RINL) is going ahead with expansion of its melting capacity to 6.3
million tons per annum (mtpa), from the current 3 mtpa, by the middle of
RINL operates two blast furnaces with a hot metal capacity of 3.4 mtpa
and has placed an order for a furnace capable of producing 2.5 mtpa of
pig iron, according to an SBB report. It has ordered two 150-ton oxygen
converters for producing 2.8 mtpa crude steel.
Additionally, the company has plans for three new six-strand continuous
billet casters, Vizag's second wire rod mill, a 7, 50,000-tpa special
bar mill and a 3.25-mtpa third sinter plant.
According to sources, RINL may increase capacity further to 7.3 mtpa by
the end of 2011 by adding one more converter and caster.
Steel output in Arab region decline by 10%
Steel production in the Arab region has been
dropped by 10 percent, mainly due to the global financial crisis, said
Ahmad Ezz chairman of Arab Iron and Steel Union.
The annual production in the region totaled 40 million tons in 2007.
Ahmad Ezz said, "There are more than 100 iron factories and companies in
the region. While many plants reduced their production, several others
have totally stopped theirs. At AISU, we are trying to prevent other
factories from stopping production altogether. We have advised factories
to opt for cutting production levels rather than stopping it completely.
UAE re-imposes customs duty on steel
The UAE Government reintroduced the five
percent custom duty on steel and cement imports effective from March 15,
2009. The decision comes almost a year after the UAE Government removed
customs duty on both steel and cement in an effort to curb rising costs
and increase supply. Shyam Bhatia, Chairman, Alam Steel, said that the
local steel industry would definitely stand to gain by the decision.
He said,"The local industry has been waiting for such an announcement.
Those people who are new to the industry will now not be able to
compete.” Riad Bsaibes, COO of Amana Steel added "The decision would be
welcomed by the steel sector. However, developers who are facing a
liquidity crunch will not react well.”
Ezz Steel cuts output by 20%
Ezz Steel, Egypt' largest steel producer, has
slashed production at its plants by about 20 percent for flat steel
since the start of 2009.
Global steel demand has declined since mid-2008, as the economic
slowdown reduced consumption in from automobile and construction
sectors. Slower demand from the automobile and construction sectors has
forced steelmakers to slash production and halt investment plans. World
crude steel production dropped by 22 percent in February against the
same period of last year,with the biggest casualties being North America
with a fall of 53 percent and the EU with 43 percent. The Middle East is
the only region which recorded growth in February. However, the
company's steel production was expected to drop about 12.5 percent to
4.5 million to 4.6 million tons in 2009 from 5.2 million tons in 2008,
said Ahmed Ezz.
"We are marginally cutting down our production this year to meet the
fall in demand," he said. "But we are expecting by the third-quarter of
2009, that there will be a slight recovery in demand."
Steel demand in Egypt has been relatively healthy due to expanding
demand for housing and the limited exposure of the country's banks to
toxic assets. A drop in global demand for steel has weighed heavily on
steel prices, which have extended losses since January. The slump has
Emirates Steel sees UAE demand down 40%
Demand for steel in the UAE will drop
fall around 40 percent this year as construction work slows, the chief
executive of state-owned Emirates Steel Industries said.
In the region, hundreds of billions of construction projects have been
put on hold as the financial crisis curbed property investment. The near
$100 fall in oil prices from last July's peak has brought an end to an
economic boom in the world's top oil exporting region. UAE steel demand
will come down to around 3.5 million tons in 2009, from around 5.5-6
million tons in 2008, said Jim White. The Abu Dhabi-based company
started commissioning a new mill last month. The company was taking a
bigger market share of the UAE market at expense of imports, White said.
The company was also exporting some steel, he added. The company was
concentrating on selling larger volumes rather than worrying about the
price, White said.
Demand throughout the Gulf region was a concern as it was still unclear
how each country would be affected by the global economic slowdown,
Emirates Steel Chairman Hussain Al Nowais said. "My concern is with
projects in the rest of the region," Nowais said. Steel demand was
likely to hold up in the emirate of Abu Dhabi even as it fell elsewhere
in the UAE, Nowais said. "I am not concerned about Abu Dhabi, because
Abu Dhabi is still committed to its infrastructure projects," Nowais
The neighbouring emirate of Dubai is the location of many of the UAE's
delayed construction projects. Abu Dhabi leads the UAE, holds over 90
percent of the country's oil wealth and has felt the impact of the
financial crisis and global slowdown less than Dubai. Emirates Steel
plans to spend $1bn over the next year or two to buy steel production
facilities in the Gulf Arab region, Nowais said.
It would also enter into partnerships with other companies for
production of steel pellets and hoped to have a partnership in place in
the third quarter, he added. Emirates Steel plans to boost capacity to 3
million tonnes in 2011 and to 6 million tonnes by 2014, Nowais said.
Erdemir denies plan to cut production
Turkey's biggest flat steel producer Erdemir
has said that there are no plans to cut production, although the demand
for steel remains weak.
The company will stick to its current operation policy. Erdemir said
that it is operating at full capacity.
Turkish scrap buyers have retuned to the market, sending a hope for the
US scrap market. They have enlarged their purchases of scraps for
producing finished steel products. Compared to iron ore prices, scrap
prices are comparatively low.
Egypt cancels protective taxes on steel sheets
The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Egypt
cancelled the protective taxes on cold rolled, galvanised and colour
coated sheets. The taxes had been imposed in the mid of February.
In a release, the minister said that the government will support the
local producers by paying 15 percent of their re rolling and coating
The tax was USD 150 per ton for cold rolled sheet, USD 200 per ton for
galvanized sheet and USD 250 per ton for colour coated sheets; or 10
percent of the invoice. The tax was not an import duty, so would be also
applied on steel imported from Arabian countries and Turkey, with which
Egypt has free trade agreement.
The government will, instead of tax on imported sheets, pay up to 15
percent of production cost. This will also encourage export of Egyptian
steel sheets, and support the end users of this material, especially
home appliances producers.
Egyptian traders tell that the tax was not applied properly, because it
did not include coils. They said that “The taxes were not the only
reason of low demand it is the financial crunch and expectation of lower
Qatar Steel to start new rebar mill next month
Qatar Steel will start production at its new
expanded rebar mill starting from next month at its 60,000 square meter
Jebel Ali Free Zone facility.
The new modern facility with mill from VAI-Pomini will have a capacity
of 300,000 tons annually. The facilities have been equipped with modern
facilities with the latest automation features and will produce deformed
bars ranging from 8mm to 40 mm in 12 meter straight lengths.
Mohammed Al Saadi, Marketing Manager of Qatar Steel said, "We have been
producing at full capacity despite the present crisis. The demand in
Qatar continues to remain stable. During the last quarter of 2008, we
had to suspend exports to other countries to meet the local demand.”
According to him, the rebar mill in Jebel Ali will only cater to the
demand in the country. He said that "The new facility was commissioned
two years back and will replace the old rebar mill with an annual
capacity of 50,000 metric tons.”
Qatar Steel's other facility is an upgraded wire rod mill with an
installed capacity of 240,000 tons per annum. Qatar Steel Company was
formed in 1974 as the first integrated steel plant in the Gulf.
Commercial production commenced in 1978 with the company becoming wholly
owned by Industries Qatar in 2003. Qatar Steel's UAE operations were
established in August 2003 to meet the growing demand for high-quality
steel wire-rod products within the GCC as well as in international
Japanese steel majors cut 57% on coal prices
Nippon Steel Corporation
and JFE Holdings Inc, Japan's two largest mills, have cut a 57 percent
in the price to pay BHP Billiton Ltd, for hard coking coal.
According to a report, now, the mill will pay $128 to $129 a metric ton
for the coal for the fiscal year starting April, down from $ 300 a ton
per year. The deal was reached with BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, a
joint venture between Melbourne- based BHP and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp.
Asian steelmaker are cutting production as a global slowdown curbs
demand from builders and carmakers. Prices of hot-rolled coil, an
industry benchmark, have more than halved since June to $505 a ton.
Japan's five blast furnace mills have all forecast fourth-quarter
losses. “We estimate falling raw material prices will push down costs by
30,000 yen ($311) a ton, but if steel prices fall further steelmakers
will have difficulty securing profits in fiscal 2009,” an analyst at
Daiwa Institute of Research in Tokyo, said. However, BHP Billiton
spokesperson denied to comment on the negotiations with customers, said
Japan's industry-wide steel output is likely to come to about 18 million
tonnes in the April-June quarter, the same level as in the previous
quarter, the head of Japan's steel association said.
POSCO Q2 steel output seen down over 30%
South Korean steel major
POSCO has curbed its steel production by 28 percent to 5.95 million tons
in the first quarter from a year earlier and plans to cut supply further
to 5.3 million tons in the second quarter.
A report said that the world's 4th largest steelmaker declined to
comment on the matter, saying its first-quarter results have yet to be
compiled, while second-quarter plans have not been fixed yet.
A Korean media report quoted an unnamed POSCO official as saying that
its production cutbacks would exceed 30 percent in the second quarter
from a year earlier when the market was heading for record highs in July
and August. The South Korean company, which made its first-ever
production cut in December, has said its output cut would be between
700,000 and 800,000 tons in the first quarter. It has also said about
900,000 and 1 million tons of steel output will be lost in the second
quarter, as it shut down a blast furnace in Gwangyang for maintenance
and improvement work.
POSCO produced more than 8 million tons of crude steel until the third
quarter of last year before the global steel market sharply shrank in
the fourth quarter as a result of the financial crisis deepening into a
global economic recession.
Japan steel demand bottoms out, Q2 lift seen
Japan's steel demand
has bottomed out in the current quarter and may show some recovery in
July- September, driven by run-downs in stocks and infrastructure
According to the Ministry of Economy , Trade and Industry (METI), demand
for steel from Japanese manufacturers and construction firms is seen
staying flat in the April-June quarter from the preceding three months.
Crude steel output during the quarter was also expected to stay flat
from January-March, at 17.83 million tons, METI said. Still, that would
be down 42.6 percent from a year earlier with output staying at nearly
four-decade lows in April-June, the first quarter of the 2009/10
"There will be no upturn in demand in the first quarter, but there will
be no further decline either, which is significant," Masaki Ishikawa, a
POSCO, South Korea's biggest steel company, posted a 69 percent decline
in quarterly profit due to slackening demand and higher costs from a
weaker Korean currency, though some analysts see the company poised for
The global downturn led the world's fourth largest steel maker to slash
crude steel production December for the first time since it began
operations in 1973. Since the South Korean steel major continued to cut
output in the first quarter to hold down inventories. Steel demand
sharply declined, a cut in production led to a 25 percent on-year drop
in first-quarter product sales, and a weaker won drove up raw-materials
costs," the company said.
POSCO's net profit for the quarter fell 325 billion won from 1.031
trillion won last year's first quarter. However, the company's sales
rose 6.7 percent to 6.471 trillion won, helped by higher product prices.
Some analysts expect exchange rates to take less of a toll on POSCO's
bottom line as the year progresses, which, along with lower inventories,
will help restrain overall costs. According to some analysts, the
company may cut prices in the second quarter, but costs of raw material
will ease due to a fall in the won0dollor rate.
According to a report, POSCO may cut ease up on production cuts. The
company also said that it might consider lowering product prices in the
second half, but did give any detail. "Compared to our rivals in Europe
and Japan which may report operating losses in the first quarter, we are
faring well by putting a top priority on cost competitiveness," POSCO
The company expects earnings in the current quarter similar to last
period's. Posco said it cut costs by improving fuel-efficiency in its
blast furnaces. The company also brought forward the maintenance of a
furnace so that it could be completed during a period of low demand. For
the full year, Posco raised its cost-savings target by 35 percent.
Meanwhile, it has lowered this year's sales target to 25 trillion won
from a range of 27 trillion to 30 trillion won, while cutting its
steel-output projection to 28 million metric tons from 29 million to 32
million tons. Posco produced 6.15 million tons in the first quarter,
down 25 percent from a year earlier.
S. Korea steel output capacity to hit a new record
S. Korea steel productions
in 2009 will rise 6.7 percent on an annual basis to 64.2 million tons,
which also is a new record of S. Korea, the six largest steelmaker
countries. And with the completion of new steel mills in modern steel
companies of the second largest steel enterprises, the S. Korea steel
productions are likely to exceed 70 million tons in 2010.
South Korea's largest steel manufacture POSCO said that it will expand
their investment by 50 percent this year, the investment volume coming
to 7300 billion won. The extending investment action of South Korean
steel mills is a striking contrast with the surging reduction of other
countries all over the world."The total number of S. Korea steel
enterprises' investment in the productions has reached over 10,000bln
won, and several large-scale investment projects have been carried out."
Steel Union of S. Korea said.
POSCO seeks for discounts in iron ore prices
The world 4th largest
steelmaker POSCO is in talks with iron ore producer Rio Tinto for a 20
percent discount in iron ore term prices. The company is also seeking
for prices to go down even further.
POSCO is also engaged in talks to settle contract prices of iron ore for
the financial year started April 1 with other companies- Vale, BHP
Billliton and Rio Tinto. Due to falling demand and prices of steel,
Asian steel companies are demanding cuts of between 40-50 percent to
2007-08 levels, iron ore prices are certain to fall. But a wide price
gap has made it uncertain when and at what level it would be agreed.
"Miners are demanding a 20 percent reduction but we believe it has to go
down by 45-50 percent to 2007/08 levels, as steel market conditions are
very poor, especially in Europe and Japan," POSCO senior executive vice
president Kwon Young-tae, in charge of raw material procurement said.
"We want to conclude the deal during April but miners have no reason to
hurry up, because benchmark prices are usually settled above spot
prices, which are currently quoted above 2007/08 contract level.
Vietnamese long products consumption up by 37% YoY
Vietnam's long products
consumption reached 353,000 tons in March 2009, up by 37.2 percent YoY
as compared to last year and the output hit 291,000 tons, up by 22.8%
In addition, Vietnam government has reduced the deposit and loan
interest rate and another important factor is that the government will
add the long products import duty on later stage.
Baosteel plans 24.9 mt crude steel output in 09
China's top steel producer
Baosteel Iron and Steel Co has planned to produce 24.9 million tons
crude steel in 2009, against its current annual capacity of 26 million
tons due to continued weakness in the global economy.
However, the company did not reveal a figure for 2008 crude steel
production. Baosteel has also projected a 27.4 percent drop in turnover
this year to 145.7 billion yuan ($21.33 billion) from last year's 200.6
billion yuan. Steel producers in China, the world's largest steel-making
country; have been grappling with overcapacity and slumping prices as
the country confronts an economic slowdown and global recession.
China's Wuhan Iron buy stake in Consolidated Thompson
Chinese steel maker Wuhan
Iron and Steel Corp has agreed to buy a 19.9 percent stake in
Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd, a Canadian mining company, for
Many Chinese companies have been acquiring stakes in foreign mining
companies, in a bid secure access to metals needed to fuel the country's
rapid internal growth.
Bloom Lake is a 640m MT Iron Ore Deposit, with a grade of approximately
30% Fe. Based on an April 2007 study, its mine life is 34 years,
according to Consolidated Thompson.
The current recession is being proven as an opportunity for many Chinese
companies. Chinese metal group Chinalco has just arranged a $21 billion
loan to finance a major investment in Rio Tinto, while China's Minmetals
has made a $1.7 billion bid for Australian miner OZ minerals Ltd. The
letter of agreement between Consolidated Thompson and WISCO provides for
WISCO to make a total investment in Consolidated Thompson of $240
million and in return Consolidated Thompson will issue 29.7 million of
its common shares to WISCO. This will represent 19.9 percent of
Consolidated Thompson's outstanding shares post the transaction.
In addition, WISCO will receive not less than a 25 percent interest in a
newly incorporated company that is to be established to operate the
Bloom Lake mine, and will commit to purchase a similar percentage of
iron ore production over the life of the mine. Furthermore, WISCO will
also be entitled to other long-term off take rights at fair market value
from both the initial production and future expansion of the Bloom Lake
project, as well as from Consolidated Thompson's Lamelee and Peppler
Lake projects. "This partnership will also strengthen Consolidated
Thompson's potential to expand from the current mine plan of 8 million
tons per year to 16 million tons of annual production of iron ore," said
Consolidated Thompson's Chief Executive Richard Quesnel, in a statement.
China iron ore imports rise
China, the world largest steel producer and consumer, imported
record amounts of iron ore in March, as traders expects the government's
stimulus plan would lead to a revival in metals demand.
According to a report, China's steel mills imported 52.1 million tons of
iron ore, up 46 percent on year, even the country's steel production has
not increased in the first two months of this year at the same pace as
these raw material imports.
But analysts forecast that the recorded imports are materials and copper
may lead to oversupply and could actually slow the pace of any recovery
in demand. The large of number of iron ore imports could create
stockpiles that would further pull down steel prices, already under
siege after a small rally early this year.
"Whether its iron ore or steel, a big upturn in demand is unlikely this
year," said a steel analyst from Umetal. "The recovery is not mature
yet, though there are signs of demand stabilizing." The high ore import
volumes do not correspond with the actual production of steel, which was
up just 2.4 percent in the first two months of this year, said Su Aik
Lim, Beijing director for Fitch Ratings. Consumption might be recovering
somewhat, but these import numbers would be too high on the basis of the
extent of the recovery to date, said another analyst.
Chinese steel mills are still negotiating 2009 contract prices for iron
ore with global mining companies. The steel mills are arguing that weak
demand should mean a sharp cut in prices Chinese mills pay. The fact
that steel mills are ordering aggressively anyway highlights the limited
extent to which the Chin Iron and Steel Association can control the
highly fragmented industry.
Maersk and Baosteel to ink steel supply agreement
China's largest steel maker
Baosteel Steel has signed a strategic steel procurement agreement with
Moller- Maersk, one of the biggest shipping companies in the world, for
a three year term. According to the agreement, the steelmaker will
supply steel products for Maersk for the items including containers,
ships and petroleum systems. The two parties hope to strengthen
strategic partnership in the future by the above procurement agreement.
Maersk and Baosteel have been cooperated for over a decade. The two
sides meanwhile reached consensus to further discuss other potential
points of cooperation in the following several months.
Chinese HRC export prices slips by USD 100/T to S Korea
Export prices of Chinese
HRC to South Korea have declined during the first week of April.
According to a report, the prices of HRC were declined by more than USD
100 per ton. South Korea's import volume during the period totaled at
108,200 tons with an average import price of USD 564 per ton.
As per the report in detail, imports from China posted at 16,000 tons
being priced at USD 581 per ton on average, down by USD 108 per ton from
USD 689 per ton in March. While, Japanese resource accumulated to 62,000
tons averaging at USD 573 per ton a drop of USD 28 per ton MoM.
30,000 tons are from the third country, being price at USD 535 per ton
down by USD 23 per ton MoM.
Bayi Steel produces 0.71 mln T of steel products in 2 months
Xinjiang Bayi Iron & Steel
Co Ltd under Baosteel, produced 0.69 million tons of pig iron and 0.71
million tons of steel products in January and February down by 6.2
Cheng Zhongkuan GM of Bayi Steel said that due to low steel prices, the
mill's revenue declined largely to CNY 2.2 billion. He said that the
company is digging ways for increasing income and decreasing
expenditure. This year, Bayi Steel plans to cut CNY 0.2 billion in its
administration cost, compared with the level of 2008. To decrease its
production cost, the mill is working over how to use Xinjiang reduced
coal in its large furnace. In terms of technology evolution, Bayi Steel
has created 30 patents in the Q1 equivalent to the whole amount in 2008.
Chinese steel mills lose more in March
Chinese steel mills
suffered more losses in March compared with January and February due to
the continuous capacity expansion and the weak demand, said Luo
Bingsheng, Vice Chairman of China Iron & Steel Association.
Luo said that the myth that steel mills continue full rate operation
despite losses that the overall industrial loss has not changed. He said
that the sagging demand has yet to come to an end, with steel prices
still lingering at low levels.
Yang Siming president of Nanjing Iron & Steel Union Co Ltd said, "It
will be impossible to earn profit from key steel business this year
owing to the massive overcapacity. Most steel mills suffered more or
less losses in March, with big mills losing more.”
Luo said the withering demand in global market, rising trade
protectionism, changing exchange rate and the unfavorable export tax
policies are the main difficulties confronting Chinese steel export. As
a result, the vice chairman suggests related government bodies to adjust
export taxes for hot rolled sheet/coil and rail steel to help increase
shipment. Yang Siming believes the full rate operation in March also
helped prop up raw materials prices like coking coal. And the president
suggests CISA to organize price talks between steelmakers and coal
giants to alleviate costs pressure. Meanwhile, He said that the
loosening credit climate also encouraged steel mills sticking to full
rate production instead of output cuts. Costs for steelmaking in this
January and February fell by CNY 234 per tonne or 9.42 percent. Crude
steel production in March rises to some 42.9 million tons or translating
into annual output of some 510 million tons.
ArcelorMittal expects U.S. steel upturn in 2nd-Qtr
The world's largest
steelmaker ArcelorMittal anticipates that steel markets in North America
and Brazil to start recovering from the current slowdown in the second
However, European steel markets will start stabilising at a low level at
the end of the year, said Benjamin Baptista Filho, new chief executive
officer of the steelmaker's South American flat carbon steels unit.
The company had cut production at its Tubarao works in Brazil in
December to match demand for steel slab and flat products as auto makers
and builders canceled orders amid the global credit crisis. Tubarao is
producing at 63 percent of its 7.5 million metric tons annual capacity
and output will accompany international markets this year, he said.
“Recovery will start only when steel stocks get back to normal,”
Baptista said. “In Brazil this will occur at the end of April, earlier
than abroad. In North America it could be June or early in the third
Jose Armando Campos, retiring chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal's
Brazil unit, said, “iron-ore prices this year will fall substantially,
in line with the fall in steel prices.
Rio may sell more assets
Mining giant Rio Tinto
could sell more assets and reschedule debt should a proposed $19.5
billion tie up with Chinese state-owned Chinalco fail to materialise.
"We think (it) will go through but we have plans in the eventuality if
other various governments or shareholders prevent the deal," Rio Chief
Financial Officer Guy Elliott said.
He said that the alternatives could include bond issues, more asset
sales, a rights issue, a rescheduling of debt or a combination of them.
Under a proposed deal, China's top aluminium company will pay $12.3
billion for stakes in Rio's iron ore, copper and aluminium assets and
$7.2 billion for convertible bonds that would double its equity stake in
Rio to 18 percent.
Australia's competition watchdog cleared Rio's tie-up with Chinalco,
rejecting at least one key argument against a deal, which still needs
Australia's treasurer's approval.
U.S. Steel halts work on $1B Clairton Works project
U.S. Steel Corp has halted
work on its highly publicized $1.2 billion upgrade to its Clairton Works
In a statement, the steelmaker blamed the global recession, saying it
"cannot speculate about when conditions will improve enough to allow
work to resume.”
The multi-year project, announced in November 2007, was projected to
create 600 construction jobs at the nation's largest coke producer,
about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. “Everybody is pulling back every
place they can,” said metals analyst Charles Bradford. “Mainly because
they can't be sure the money will be there.”
Contractors broke ground in October on the project to replace three
aging coke battery ovens. Coke, which fuels furnaces in the steelmaking
process, is created by baking coal in massive ovens, tended to around
the clock. The new upgraded ovens were expected to include
state-of-the-art pollution controls to meet federal regulations and
improve air quality in the surrounding communities, home to about 25,000
The area, including Clairton, Glassport, Liberty and Port Vue, has been
singled out for failing to meet national air quality standards for soot
Economy and steel down, not out: ArcelorMittal
Despite of a small recovery
in demand and production, the short-term outlooks for the steel industry
and the economy are not positive, but both have a great future, said a
top official of ArcelorMittal.
According to a report, Mike Rippey, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal
USA, said the economic recession will not end this year but the end will
come. "There's a great future for the steel industry, for ArcelorMittal
and manufacturing in the U.S.," Rippey said. The global economic
distress and low steel demand result from several factors, including
poor automobile sales and production, housing starts, commercial
construction and manufacturing investment, he said. The unemployment
rate stands at more than 8 percent and could go to 10 percent before
easing, he said. The automobile industry, which accounts for a large
percentage of the domestic steel market, is a big factor in the current
steel crisis that has pushed U.S. steel production into the 40 percent
range from 90 percent rate in August, Rippey said.
"There are a shrinking number of cars on the road," he said. "I don't
think that's sustainable, which eventually will create demand."
The economic factors, except for housing starts, could quickly reverse
if there is an uptick in demand, Rippey said, calling the current steel
market a "deviation" from the normal pattern of the past century,
"We're going through a very difficult period," he said, adding that
although it's difficult, the steel industry is getting through it
without the bankruptcies that occurred during other downturns.
Other factors that will escalate the economic and steel industry
recovery are the U.S. and global stimulus packages, low inventories at
steel service centers and manufacturing plants, growing rates of steel
consumption in developing countries and 80 million people in their late
teens ready to become consumers, Rippey said.
ArcelorMittal USA is matching supply with demand, and all of its
facilities are experiencing reduced employment, Rippey said. "We're
looking at a reduced order book," he said. "Employment at Indiana Harbor
and Burns Harbor still is very high, but there are a significant number
on layoff. I don't think that will change quickly. That will take an
uptick in demand."
JFE Steel sees demand recovering in 3 to 5 years
JFE Steel Corporation said
that a recovery in steel demand many take at least 3 to 5 years as a
global recession curbs industry sales.
According to a report, Hajime Bada, President, JFE Steel Corporation
said, " The recession will continue for awhile. If a recovery in the US
economy is delayed, it will take more than five years for a revival in
steel demand. It is better than nothing, but the growth in steel demand
in China is a drop in the ocean and not strong enough to have an impact
on global demand."
Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry said that mills in Japan will
probably cut output by 43 percent in the April to June quarter from a
year earlier to 17.83 million tons, near a four decade low.
JFE had idled a blast furnace in Okayama and another in Hiroshima in the
past quarter. It said in January that production will be down by 35
percent in the quarter from a year earlier.
Bada said that JFE Steel may not complete negotiations on iron ore price
contracts for the fiscal year started April 1st 2009 until as late as
July, in line with the timing of settlements last year. He added that
"We want iron ore prices to go back to 2003 levels, but that's not
ThyssenKrupp plans more job cuts
German steel and industrial
conglomerate ThyssenKrupp plans to cut 4,000 jobs and introduce a leaner
The new measures are more far reaching than the restructuring steps
unveiled by CEO Ekkehard Schulz in March.
ThyssenKrupp's five independent business units would be merged into the
parent holding company, reducing the influence of those units'
executives and labor union representatives, which under German law have
a say in the management of such companies.
Schulz's end March plan envisaged merging the five segments of steel,
stainless, technologies, elevator and services into 2 divisions in a
move that would cut annual costs by up to EUR 500 million.
Earlier last month, ThyssenKrupp, Germany's biggest steelmaker, said it
could post a net loss this fiscal year as the global economic downturn
dents demand for capital goods like cars and ships.
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