Brazilian steel CEOs optimistic about future of local steel industry

Wednesday, 29 September 2021 21:14:38 (GMT+3)   |   Sao Paulo

Despite the challenges ahead, CEOs of Brazilian steelmakers are optimistic about the future of the local steel industry. In a panel with top executives held during the Brazil Steel Congress on Wednesday, the executives discussed prospects for both Brazilian exports and imports of steel and the challenges ahead.

“Brazilian steel exports will grow, but we still have to deal with competitiveness issues in Brazil,” said Gustavo Werneck, CEO at integrated steelmaker Gerdau.

Sergio Leite, CEO at flats producer Usiminas, said issues restraining Brazilian steel exports include the persisting surplus of global steel capacity. He called for global measures in response.

“We’re not seeing concrete measures to address it. A discussion at an OECD level is needed,” he said.

Werneck added that, as for the next 10 years, prospects will be better when compared to the past 10 years. “It will be a much better cycle (for the Brazilian steel industry),” he said.

The CEOs also addressed Brazilian steel imports, as local industrial segments, such as the civil construction industry, has sought steel imports as an alternative to high domestic steel prices.

“The big issue with imports is that there’s a big asymmetry between the countries Brazil is importing its steel from, like China. We’ve all seen that China isn’t yet a market economy, a fact which increases those asymmetries. We want fair trade practices,” Sergio Leite, from Usiminas said.

“Importing steel means exporting labor and wealth,” said Frederico Ayres Lima, CEO at Aperam South America. He said Brazil could be using its own labor force to address growing demand for steel products.

The CEOs also agreed that the use of steel in electric cars in Brazil might still have to wait in the short-term.

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