THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will look into the proposal of SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp. to acquire National Steel Corp. (NSC) in Iligan City, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Friday.
“We have to check on the proposal, we have to check on what they can offer, but if the intention is to have an iron and steel operation, by all means that’s a welcome one,” Lopez told reporters.
“It’s a new investment, it should have modern facilities to be efficient. The presumption here is they enter with no request for tariff protection,” Lopez said, noting that incentives are usually granted to priority industries that use modern technology, have new facilities, are job-generating and yet with a low production cost.
Last March 20, Benjamin Yao, president of SteelAsia, announced that his company was interested in acquiring NSC’s assets to produce products like plates, beams, billets, slabs, sheet piles, among others, which are all currently imported.
“This will be a major step toward the development of a long overdue local steel industry which will generate new businesses and strengthen existing ones like the automotive industry, shipbuilding and repair, construction, and infrastructure that in turn will boost countryside growth and create more jobs,” Yao said.
NSC assets were foreclosed by Iligan City last year due to alleged tax delinquencies. Yao said SteelAsia will negotiate with all valid claimants, including the government, for an asset-purchase arrangement if their proposal is approved.
“We grew exponentially in the past 10 years, starting with a production capacity of 450,000 metric tons in 2006 to 2.7 million metric tons in 2016 for rebars and billets. We are putting up new ones in the next two years to bring up our capacity to five million metric tons, which will be 60 percent of total annual demand,” Yao said.
“We have the expertise and the balance sheet to take over Iligan and restart our quest for a steel industry that will serve as the backbone of our industrialization,” he said.