The 2018 ASEAN Iron and Steel Sustainability Forum, held at Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on 26 to 28 November 2018 turned out to be a landmark event for SEAISI for the following reasons:
1. The Forum attracted around 250 delegates from 23 countries, a record turnout for the year-end event of the Institute since it was first organised in 2008.
2. Myanmar was admitted as the seventh ASEAN member country of SEAISI at the 99th meeting of the SEAISI Board, held a day before the Forum.
3. At the same meeting, the Board approved and adopted a new business plan for the Institute.
In his opening address, Mr. Win Viriyaprapaikit, Chairman of SEAISI, informed the delegates that the need to develop a new direction and business plan for SEAISI was driven by the fast-changing business landscape as well as implications of global megatrends which bring new challenges and opportunities to the steel industry in ASEAN. Mr. Win also announced the new Vision (A world class steel institute to contribute to sustainable steel value chain in ASEAN) and Mission (To educate and advocate sustainable development of ASEAN steel value chain, in partnership with global institutions and experts) statements of SEAISI.
The first keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Chu Duc Khai, Vice-Chairman and General Secretary of Vietnam Steel Association, who made a presentation on “Vietnam Steel Industry: Next Leap of Transformation”. In his address, Mr. Khai traced the rapid development of the steel industry in Vietnam over the last 10 years which led to Vietnam being placed as the 18th largest steel producer and the third biggest net importer of steel in the world in 2017. Going forward, Mr. Khai expects the steel industry in Vietnam to focus more on quality than quantity and that there will be increasing production of flat and high-end steel to meet the requirements of shipbuilding and mechanical engineering. In this direction, he foresees that steel plants will be getting bigger and adopting new and modern technologies.
The second keynote speaker was Associate Professor Hoang Ho, Director General, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Transport of Vietnam. His topic was “Advanced Technology in Construction of Transportation Infrastructure in Vietnam and Requirements for Steel Materials”. In his speech, Associate Professor Ho highlighted the advantages of steel as a material for transport infrastructure construction in Vietnam. He, however, emphasized that such steel materials should have characteristics of long service life, corrosion and weather resistance and be able to provide flexible forms and configurations.
The session on “Steel Market Developments” saw speakers from SEAISI, Vietnam Steel Corporation, Fastmarkets MB, Kallanish Steel and World Steel Association covering wide-ranging topics of interest viz. ASEAN steel industry development scenario, outlook for Vietnam steel industry, global steel and scrap trade flows, trade wars and perspectives on EAF vs BOF. The key takeaways from the presentations include:
- After retreating 4.1% year-on-year in 2017, steel consumption in ASEAN-6 inched up marginally in the first half of 2018, by 0.2% year-on-year, to 36 million tonnes. Steel demand in most countries in the region is expected to pick up in the second half of 2018, driven mainly by growth in the construction sector, and steel consumption for the whole year of 2018 is projected to expand at a year-on-year rate of 3% to 4%.
- Apparent steel consumption in Vietnam in 2018 is expected to increase 1.7% year-on-year to 22 million tonnes.
- Asia steel and ferrous scrap trade flows have been turned upside down by US-China trade war as international mills lost traditional markets and started to offer massive volume of steel to Asia, increasing price competition.
- Protectionism is a new way of life and here to stay as long as Donald Trump remains President of U.S. and he is siding with domestic steel over end-users and other countries.
- The balance of BOF vs EAF in the coming decades will be determined by environmental policies, quality of raw materials, emerging technologies, demand of steel using sectors etc. Investment decisions are also influenced by age structure of current capacities, useful lifetimes, relining requirements, coke batteries etc.
In line with the focus on the construction sector, the biggest steel consuming sector in ASEAN, the rest of the sessions in the Forum were devoted to construction and construction related subjects. The topics covered in the sessions were “Design & Technology Trends for Steel Structure & Infrastructure”; “Steel Construction: Developments and Applications”; Steel Processing Developments for Steel Structure”; “Manufacturing & Technology Developments for Steel Construction”; “Steel Applications for Sustainable Construction Sector”; and “Technology and Business Developments for Steel Construction”.
A total of 22 informative papers were presented by various speakers from Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and Vietnam in the sessions mentioned. In each of the sessions, there was active participation from the floor with many delegates seeking clarification and further information from the speakers on specific areas of interest.
The site tour after the Forum attracted some 80 participants who were taken to visit the facilities of Southern Steel Company Ltd, a manufacturer of round bar, deformed bar, angle bar and wire rod as well as Hoa Sen Group's Phu My Steel Sheet Plant which produces galvanised steel sheet, aluminium-zinc alloy coated steel sheet, pre-painted galvanised steel sheet and other alloy coated steel.
All in all, the Forum was a resounding success. The Institute would like to thank the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA) for its tremendous support and cooperation in co-hosting this year’s event in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Our thanks also go to all the speakers, chairpersons, delegates and the hosts of the site tour for your great support and participation.
TAN AH YONG