Venezuela’s struggling steel sector sees hope

Mar 29, 2013 | 09:46 AM | None

Tags  steel, David Phelps, AIIS, Venezuela, Siderúrgica del Orinoco, Sidor, Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro Alacero

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s steel industry and investors are hoping interim president Nicolás Maduro will bring reforms to the sector after the policies of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, overturned a once largely private and highly profitable sector, according to key industry figures.

"The disaster of the industry is a combination of policy and mismanagement," said Robert Bottome, director of the Caracas, Venezuela-based VenEconomy Publications Group.

But with Maduro now in power and expected to create his own political base by winning a presidential election on April 14, Bottome is hoping he will reform the steel sector.

"We see the opportunity," he told AMM sister publication Steel First. "Given the situation, (Maduro) may be inclined to do something sensible."

Venezuela once reigned as one of Latin America’s largest steel producers, with output peaking in 2007 at 5 million tonnes of liquid steel, according to Latin American steel association Alacero. However, the industry took a turn in recent years with statistics showing production plummeting by 50 percent to 2.5 million tonnes in 2012. ....

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