MEXICO CITY Mexican steelmakers must produce more
specialty and value-added steel products, especially for the
automotive sector, to replace imports that have been
affecting the local industry, the president of the
countrys Association for Iron and Steel Technology
(AIST) told AMM sister publication Steel
Mexico must grow in specialty products, Hugo
Solís, who is also industrial director at Nuevo
Leon-based flat steel producer Ternium Mexico SA de CV, said.
We have to go to the processing of steel and not only
to the production of crude steel.
Mexico can continue to manufacture more basic items, such as
hot-rolled and cold-rolled coil, Solís said, but it
should focus on such products as hot-dipped galvanized and
other galvanized steel to help import levels go down.
The Mexican automotive sector is set to receive up to $16
billion in investments over the next few years, driving local
vehicle output to as much as 4 million units per year,
according to the Mexican ministry of the economy.
Vehicle output reached 2.88 million units for the whole of
2012, up 12.8 percent from 2.5 million units in 2011,
according to national automotive association Amia.
The automotive industry is a very demanding sector,
(and) we have to be prepared for it, Solís said.
If we are not prepared, imports will continue growing,
and thats what we have to avoid.
The Mexican steel industry will also need to produce
specialized steel to reduce vehicle weight, Solis said,
noting that the automotive industry is reducing vehicle
weight by 7 to 10 percent for each new model.
For example, Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
recently announced that its Infiniti Q50 premium sedan, on
sale later this year, will be its first model to use a new,
lighter grade of steel. The newly developed
1.2-gigapascal steel is part of a broader goal of reducing
vehicle weight and raising fuel economy through use of
advanced steel technology, the company said.
In January, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. announced
its plans to manufacture vehicles using ultra-high-strength
steels or alternative materials, such as carbon fiber, to
reduce vehicle weight.
Solís also noted that Mexican steelmakers have been
asking the federal government to raise duties on steel
products to stop the recent rise in imports. Temporary
tariffs of 3 percent currently exist for some imported steel
products, but Mexican mills want higher levels.
Solís said that the Mexican government must increase
import tariffs as it had in the past. (A few years
ago,) imports had grown terribly ... and once the (3 percent)
tariff was imposed, imports dropped again, Solís
said. This indicates that even a small tariff will allow the
government to control imports, he said.
Members of the customs commission of Mexican steel
association Canacero said in February that steel imports rose
40 percent year over year in 2012, a development that puts
the whole Mexican steel industry at risk.
A version of this article was first published by AMM
sister publication Steel First.