PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Steel Institute (MSI) expects the performance of the local iron and steel sector this year to be similar with last year, given the disruption in operations following the Covid-19 lockdown.
According to chief executive officer Jarrod Lim, (pic) Malaysia’s iron and steel exports rose to 10.03 million tonnes in 2020 from 6.64 million tonnes in 2019 despite the pandemic.
Imports, however, fell to 5.98 million tonnes in 2020 from 7.51 million tonnes in the previous year.
MSI is an industry-driven agency supported and funded by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) on a shared responsibility basis with the steel industry.
“Currently, it is premature to determine the second half of the iron and steel performance given the uncertainty of the current lockdown and any future lockdown that may be enforced,” Lim told StarBiz.
However, in terms of regional competitiveness in 2020, Malaysia was the second biggest exporter of finished steel in the Asean region, after Vietnam and ahead of Indonesia and Thailand.
According to the South East Asia Iron and Steel Institute (SEASI), the higher exports by Malaysia last year was due to an increase in capacity and exports of long steel and semi-steel products.
For the year under review, Vietnam saw an increase in its hot-cold rolled (HRC) exports while the jump in Indonesia’s exports was attributed to an increase in capacity and exports of plates and stainless steel, said SEASI.Asked to comment on MSI’s tasks during the current pandemic environment, Lim said the agency has been facilitating the government and the steel industry by providing guidance to companies in applying to operate at warm idle mode through CIMS 3.0 system.
It also conducted a follow-up with Miti on the approval for the iron and steel to be on warm idle mode as well as provide the feedback to Miti on the need to allow certain iron and steel companies to operate at 60% workforce to support the approved essential services.MSI also sought Miti’s assistance to allow companies to receive and deliver goods from the factory and for customers to collect goods from warehouses.
Iron and steel are a critical material for the construction and non-construction (industrial) sub-sectors.
“The industrial sub-sector related to iron and steel serves among others industries such as the electrical and electronics, automotive, steel fabrication, food and beverage, machinery and equipment and furniture,” he added.
Accordng to Lim, the iron and steel industry is a huge investment business that employs more than 90,000 people.