Alacero 2020: CEOs discuss growing steel demand in Latin America

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 01:25:05 (GMT+3)   |   Sao Paulo

The Alacero conference held online this week gathered a panel of CEOs who discussed the latest developments in the region.

Maria Juliana Ospina, director of the Colombian Committee of Steel Producers (CPA), said Covid hit Latin America hard by decreasing steel output in most countries at weak levels. She blamed China for the still existing steel glut, which hurts the region. Ospina said a likely shutdown in several European countries due to a second wave of Covid-19 might also have a negative effect in the local steel industry.

Raul Gutierrez, CEO at Mexican steelmaker Deacero, said the recovery of activity in the Latin American steel industry was better than expected. However, he warned that such a recovery was fueled in part by weak steel inventories by the consuming industries.

“We’re seen in Mexico and elsewhere in the region a strong demand (for steel products) but with a limited (steel) supply,” Gutierrez said.

Carlos Arturo Zuluaga, CEO at Colombian steelmaker Acesco, said countries with high social inequality like Colombia have been suffering the most, with a noted impact in jobs. He said the Colombian government was quick to respond by offering housing subsides, which boosted real estate sales post-Covid-19, adding that increased efforts by governments to boost the housing and infrastructure sector might also aid the local steel markets.

Jefferson de Paula, CEO of ArcelorMittal Brazil's long steel business, noted that Brazil and Argentina, for instance, are experiencing two different “recovery” phases. However, both countries saw economic activity decline, with Argentina been hurt the hardest, de Paula said.

“As for year-end, we’re recovering steel inventories in Argentina and Brazil. However, we must be cautious in terms of forecasts for 2021. There are still certain issues that don’t depend on the countries themselves. These are external factors. Is the second wave of Covid coming?” de Paula said, adding that he’s more optimistic about Brazil than Argentina.

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