The steel industry’s trade deficit had amounted to over US$4.7 billion in the year to mid-October, said the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA).
Vietnam had imported nearly nine million tons of steel worth some US$6.2 billion. The major steel products imported to Vietnam in the period were black steel sheets, coils, scrap and billets.
Meanwhile, local steelmakers had exported around 1.6 million tons of steel products and materials, bringing in nearly US$1.5 billion. The main export items were steel sheets with over 353,000 tons, construction steel with 268,000 tons, and welded steel pipes with 151,000 tons.
Construction steel producers are concerned about cheap import steel, especially from China, which has been hitting domestic production hard.
VSA said it had met with relevant authorities in late October to discuss how to control steel imports from China, including coils that contain boron.
Statistics of local customs offices show the volume of steel coils with boron imported from China in the first seven months of the year rose 5.5 times year-on-year.
In previous years, the pace of construction often accelerated in November as contractors wanted to accomplish their yearly targets, but it is not the case this year. Building material consumption has dipped steeply.
Speaking to the Daily, construction contractors in HCMC said they had had no work to do for a couple of weeks now, while some others have been depending on several small repair projects.
Pham Quynh, a contractor in HCMC’s District 10, said: “Tet (Lunar New Year) has three months to go but I’ve contracted fewer projects than last year. I should let my workers return home earlier for Tet holiday. I’ve never faced such a situation like this before.”
The slowdown in the construction sector has caused a decline in production and consumption of many building materials.
VSA reports a year-on-year drop of 7.1% in the output of cement, 8.8% in construction steel, 12.8% in concrete and other products made of cement and 21.2% in stone, sand, grave, clay and kaolin.
In addition to cutting back on production to reduce inventories, many steel makers since the middle of October have brought down prices of their products by an average VND200,000-400,000 per ton.
The Saigon Times Daily