MEXICO CITY Mexicos
largest integrated steelmaker, Altos Hornos de México
SAB de CV (Ahmsa), expects domestic prices to fall by 20
percent over the next few months on the back of "unfair trade
practices" from countries in Asia and the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS).
Prices have already fallen some
20 percent this year due to downward pressure from Chinese,
Indian, Russian and Ukrainian shipments, Ahmsa sales and
marketing director Miguel Elizondo told AMM sister
publication Steel First.
In the first nine months of
2012, those four countries shipped to Mexico about 255,000
tonnes of steel products similar to those manufactured by
Ahmsa, including hot-rolled coil, cold-rolled coil, plate,
tinplate and structural sections, nearly triple the 91,350
tonnes shipped in the same period last year, Elizondo said.
Imports from other countries
also have been rising in 2012, with Ahmsa identifying a
"significant increase" in importsmainly plate, hot-rolled
coil, cold-rolled coil and structural sectionsfrom South
To compete with importers using
what Ahmsa described as "unfair trade practices," the company
said it will require the help of the new government of Enrique
Peña Nieto, who became president Dec. 1.
Monclova, Mexico-based Ahmsa
expects Peña Nieto to provide the steel industry with
"protection against unfair imports, mainly from China, through
taxes or duties."
At the same time, the government
should create laws "that (public) works carried out in our
country should have a minimum local content of 60 percent,
similar to (legislation in) the United States."
Steel theft also has been a
concern for the integrated steelmaker, which has been the
victim of dozens of thefts of semifinished steel products and
raw materials, and Ahmsa has already asked Peña Nieto to
improve security across the whole country. Figures published by
Mexican national steel association Canacero show that the value
of steel stolen from Mexican roads between early 2010 and
mid-2012 totaled 600 million pesos ($46.5 million).
Despite the pressure from steel
imports and domestic thefts, Ahmsa anticipates "dynamic growth"
in the Mexican market in the first few months of 2013, driven
by the companys Fénix project, which will increase
its crude steel production capacity by about 40 percent.
Estimated to cost about $1.5
billion, the Fénix project comprises a
1.46-million-tonne-per-year blast furnace, which came on-stream
last year, as well as a new 1.2-million-tonne electric-arc
furnace, a 1.2-million-tonne slab caster and a 1-million-tonne
plate mill. The expansion project continues to advance, and its
new facilities will gradually come into operation from early
2013 onward, Elizondo said.
Ahmsa wants to increase its
steel output to supply high demand in the machinery, mechanical
equipment, rail, automotive and construction sectors.
A version of this article
was first published by AMM sister publication Steel