Outgoing Federacciai president reviews situation in steel industry

Friday, 28 September 2018 15:31:20 (GMT+3)   |   Brescia

After six years at the helm of Federacciai, the Italian steel producers association, "I can underline the resilience of Italian steel", said outgoing president Antonio Gozzi during a press conference that was held on September 25. "In the last ten years - he said - the Italian steel industry has seen great development and innovation from both a cultural and technological point of view. According to our estimates, the steel industry has invested an average of one billion euro per year in technological innovation. Cultural innovation and artificial intelligence make the Italian steel industry unique in the world and it makes an essential contribution to Italian exports."

"This resilience - Mr. Gozzi continued - is proved by the fact that even the crisis points have been resolved in some way. Taranto-based Ilva, despite being a very difficult work of industrial revival, can now count on the largest steel producer in the world, ArcelorMittal, and also Piombino-based Aferpi, after years of improbable projects, can finally rely on another great protagonist of the world steel industry, JSW Steel. I would have regretted ending my experience at the helm of Federacciai without a solution for Ilva. I'm sorry it did not remain in Italian hands, but I'm glad it has come back to the hands of the private sector after years of bad management by the Italian state."

Speaking about the issue of global steel tariffs, the outgoing president of Federacciai recalled how for a long time the EU did not make its voice heard enough regarding unfair trade flows. "The EU - he added - is divided on the issue because there are countries that are exclusively importers and that do not perceive the importance of fair trade."

"It is my personal opinion - he continued - that we must always discuss this matter with the United States: the EU has made it 'a matter of principles' by rejecting a good agreement proposed by the US a few months ago."

Although the US have been enjoying "strong demand and the uptrend of domestic prices", said Mr. Gozzi, "tariffs are dangerous. I hope the US will realize this. I believe that everyone should follow the WTO rules."

Last July the EU reacted to the threat of the diversion of trade flows with provisional safeguard measures that were justified by the fact that "in the last eight months steel imports in Europe have increased by 10 percent", recalled Gozzi. "Despite the increase in import volumes, "prices have not been collapsing, and this shows that our end-consumer industries continue to enjoy good performance," he said.

"I do not know how long this good situation will last for the steel industry," said Gozzi. "Everybody foresees a slowdown, but I don't. There are four factors that make me say this: the strong increase of energy prices, the increase of steel raw materials, the strong growth of freight rates and the positive sentiment of Italian steelmakers. Also, the US economy is bullish, and also Germany is doing well. Maybe something is happening in China that we are not able to understand at the moment. There are no disasters happening in the world, despite two regional crises in Argentina and Turkey. The Turkish crisis, however, has had some positive effect, because with the devaluation of the Turkish lira, Turkish exporters have left some space to others. Anyway, I am confident that the Turkish economic crisis will find a solution quickly."

Gozzi will leave the presidency of Federacciai by October 10, when Alessandro Banzato will replace him and will make his first public speech during the association's annual conference.

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