INTERNATIONAL Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz wants local steel and iron manufacturers to work out a strategy to tap market opportunities following the full implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) and the emergence of China as a potential market.
She said it was timely that industry and trade associations such as The Metal Dealers Association worked out a long-term strategy to effect intra-industry collaboration and restructuring, if necessary, to make the industry more resilient and competitive.
Consumption of iron and steel products in Asean is expected to reach 50 million tonnes by 2010 and China is still a net importer of steel, with imports of over 29 million tonnes in 2002.
These developments dictate that companies in Malaysia must strategise well to face challenges, while being able to benefit from any new market opportunities, Rafidah said at the Selangor and Federal Territory Metal Dealers Association's 60th anniversary dinner in Petaling Jaya.
But for Malaysian steel and iron manufacturers to go full swing in tapping new markets via Afta and China, she said the volume of steel and iron product imports needed to be reduced.
All industry players must take a longer term view of the situation and understand the country's need to have its own local supplies in order not to be disadvantaged by increasing import costs, she stressed.
Rafidah said Malaysia still imported a large amount of iron and steel products to meet supply needs. In 2002, total imports had increased by 2.9% to reach RM9.42bil and for the first nine months of 2003, total imports stood at RM7.7bil.
Rafidah, however, said that given the current circumstances, Malaysia exported a relatively large amount of iron and steel products. In 2001, their exports were valued at RM2.89bil while in 2002, they increased by 0.5%to reach RM2.9bil.
For the first nine months of 2003, exports of iron and steel products surged to RM3.47bil. Bernama
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