• Steel sales may grow 8% this year after 20% rise in 2015

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    THE iron and steel industry is likely to grow by 7 percent to 8 percent this year after it posted a 20 percent increase in sales in 2015, boosted by demand in the construction sector and spurred by the housing segment.

    Roberto Cola, president of Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI), said the industry sales totaled 8.8 million tons last year.

    “The Philippines has a robust construction sector, making it a good market [for steel makers and importers],” Cola said in Filipino, citing the housing and infrastructure segment as the main drivers of the construction boom.

    The sales volume in 2015 was a record for the industry, which has been growing steadily since 2010.

    The bulk or 4.8 million tons of total sales comprised of “rebars” for constructing houses, office buildings, and commercial establishments. The balance came from sales of “angle bars” for roofing purposes, “cold roll” for making flat GI sheets, and “hot roll” for fabrication.

    This year, the industry is again set to grow on account of construction activities in the country, Cola said.

    The local steel industry produces “about 30 percent” of the rebars while the cold and hot roll products are all imported.

    “We have less in terms of steel manufacturing, and that’s a problem. Current policies favor importing, more on the import mentality. For the long-term, we need to have more, but this remains a weakness because you have to invest for seven to eight years first in the steel industry [before break even or profitability sets in],” Cola said.

    “We don’t have our own. We are vulnerable to shortage. [We need] steel for national security like ships, transportation units, et cetera,” he added, citing the need for strict monitoring of imports to avoid smuggled products that threatens the local industry.

    PISI members include Stronghold Steel Corp., Treasure Steelworks Corp. and Ferromet Resources Inc., Capitol Steel Corp., High Street (SPC-AMC) Inc., Lunar Steel Corp., Maxima Steel Mills Corp., New Carcar Manufacturing Inc., Pag-Asa Steel Works Inc., and SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., as well as LLN Products & Services Corp. and Sterling Steel Inc.

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