It was truly an auspicious occasion when SEAISI celebrated its 45th anniversary in conjunction with the 2016 SEAISI Conference & Exhibition in Hanoi, Vietnam. The event, held from 30 May to 2 June 2016 at JW Marriott Hanoi, saw an overwhelming turnout of close to 600 delegates from 30 countries across the globe. The exhibition, organised in conjunction with the conference, also attracted a record participation of 44 companies which took up all the 62 exhibition booths and two hospitality suites. The newly revamped SEAISI website and the all new 2016 Map of ASEAN Iron and Steel Industry were officially launched during the opening ceremony.
The Keynote Session on the first day of the conference was largely devoted to deliberating issues related to the theme of the conference, which is “Innovating and Sustaining Competitiveness in ASEAN Steel Industry”. The keynote speakers were Mr. Chen Yuan-Cheng, Chairman of Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation and Mr. Nghiem Xuan Da, General Director of Vietnam Steel Corporation.
Mr. Chen, in his keynote presentation, informed the delegates that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation was expected to blow-in its first blast furnace in June this year, followed by the commissioning of a second blast furnace a year later. With that, the company would have an annual crude steel production capacity of 7.1 million tonnes, making it the single largest greenfield steel plant in ASEAN. He was confident that the company would be able to produce high quality steel products at competitive price and serve as an engine to drive the innovative and competitive strength of the secondary and tertiary steel processing sectors not only in Vietnam but also in ASEAN.
The other keynote speaker, Mr. Da, touched on the challenges and opportunities of the steel industry in Vietnam and ASEAN. He noted that steel demand in the ASEAN countries continues to expand at a faster pace than the global average for emerging economies. However, the region is facing intense unfair competition from low-priced imports, particularly from China. He advocated industry consolidation and specialisation by geography to increase competitiveness. He also ventured to suggest for the establishment of an ASEAN Steel Committee under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) framework to support and promote the sustainable development of the ASEAN steel industry through the adoption of coordinated policies.
As in the past, the keynote speeches were followed by a CEO Panel Discussion. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Roberto Cola, Chairman of SEAISI. Joining the two keynote speakers in the panel discussion were three board members of SEAISI. They were Mr. Jason Ellis, Director for Australia and General Manager of BlueScope Steel Australia; Dato’ Soh Thian Lai, Director for Malaysia and President of Malaysian Iron and Steel Industry Federation (MISIF); and Mr. Ashish Anupam, Director for Singapore and President & CEO of NatSteel Holdings Pte. Ltd. The topics discussed included the challenges faced by the industry as a result of the global excess steel production capacity, competition from Chinese steel exports, investments from Chinese steel companies in Southeast Asia, outlook for Southeast Asia’s steel exports and role of the Australian steel companies in the Southeast Asian iron and steel market. The panel members were of the general consensus that the steel industry in ASEAN is facing severe unfair competition from steel exports from China and that short term trade measures are necessary for the survival of the industry. In the longer term, the industry would need to enhance its competitiveness through such measures as consolidation, merger and acquisition, cost reduction, customisation, technology upgrading and innovation. The industry would also need to spearhead the drive to increase steel intensity in the major steel consuming sectors, in particular, the construction sector.
As usual, the session on “Regional Developments” provided delegates with updates on the developments of the iron and steel industry in ASEAN and its two closest neighbours – China and India.
This was followed by the session on “Strategic Challenges & Opportunities” which featured presentations on “Changing Trends in Steel Production and Trade in the SEAISI Region” by CRU; “ASEAN Steel Import Competition” by The Steel Index; “Iron and Steel Industry in ASEAN: Characteristics and Supply Capability” by SEAISI; and “ASEAN Steel Industry: Where Do We Go From Here?” by Thai Iron and Steel Club, Federation of Thai Industries. The presentation by Mr. Wikrom Vajragupta, Chairman of Thai Iron and Steel Club, in particular, attracted much attention as it contained several thought-provoking proposals on how to move the ASEAN steel industry forward in light of the prevailing challenging environment. The proposals centred around the creation of competitive and capital efficient upstream supply as well as the creation of long term downstream value.
The presentation of the Country Reports by representatives of the nine member countries of SEAISI took place over two sessions on days one and two and was well received by the delegates. In addition, a total of 80 technical papers were delivered by various experts over 16 sessions on the second and third day of the conference.
The plant tour on the last day saw some 150 delegates divided into three groups visiting several leading steel and steel related establishments in Vietnam. The most well participated route was the tour of the newly opened integrated steel complex of Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation.
The 2016 SEAISI Conference & Exhibition in Hanoi, Vietnam was a record-breaking success. The Institute would like to convey its deepest appreciation to the co-host of this year’s event, the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA), all the speakers and chairpersons, all the exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers, all the companies that hosted the plant tour and all the delegates for your tremendous support and cooperation.
We look forward to seeing you all again in the 2017 SEAISI Conference & Exhibition which will be held in Singapore. The theme of the conference will be “Realising the Value within ASEAN Steel Industry through Technology Development, Capacity Optimisation and Digitisation”.
TAN AH YONG