Value chain realignment boosts Mexican steelmakers in 2021

The strategy of substituting imports and strengthening the steel production chain in the North American region brought good results to the Mexican steel industry in 2021, and it already expects a 13% increase in its production at the end of the year with the production of value steels. added that they serve sectors such as the automotive sector, so that it will obtain levels similar to those registered in the prepandemic, during 2019.

This was advanced by David Gutiérrez Muguerza, president of the National Chamber of the Iron and Steel Industry (Canacero), who affirmed that Mexico has “a great capacity to grow in terms of import substitution, we still have a great challenge to do” .

In the last decade, steel companies operating in Mexico have invested 15,000 million dollars to be self-sufficient in the coming years, which will accelerate with the trade war between the United States and China.

The fact that the United States seeks to substitute imports from Asia “means a great opportunity for the national (Mexican) industry to take advantage of” nearshoring “(location of suppliers in the region), and we can generate, not only substitute, exports from the United States that They are made from China as a finished steel product, but rather add value in productive chains in industries that can be installed in Mexico to substitute imports from Asian countries. There we have a great opportunity ”, he asserted.

By the end of 2021, the steel industry foresees that steel production will be around 19 million tons, against the 16.8 million produced in 2020, which would represent an increase of approximately 13%.

Mexico is the 15th producer in the world, according to figures from the 2020 Canacero, whose production is based on recycling with a 38 percent share. Meanwhile, worldwide, only 23% of production comes from this process.

For its part, the Apparent National Consumption (CNA) will be 28 million tons, due to the reactivation of the economy, which is 15.7% more than in 2020 when the pandemic occurred and there was inactivity in various sectors. Although it will also be higher by 400,000 tons compared to 2019.

“Reducing imports is a great challenge, in 2021 two large investments were made, this will reduce imports, but we will continue to be a net importing country of steel,” said David Gutiérrez.

Mexico will close 2021 with 11.5 million tons of imported steel, “we are still importers, but we are already working to reduce dependence on self-sufficiency,” he said.

The steel industry exported 3.5 million tons of steel in 2021, of which 66% went to the United States, 9.7% to Colombia and 3.7% to Canada, in addition to Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador and Chile.

“In three years they are starting strong investments – including ArcelorMittal, which produced the first roll of hot-rolled steel, after investing 1,000 million dollars in 2018 – to meet the demand of the automotive industry for special steels,” he added.

What we see is how to work with the Ministry of Economy to have protection against unfair trade, mainly with countries that do not have trade agreements, such as South Korea, which represents 18% of Mexican purchases.

Even, he said, there is concern because a single South Korean company produces twice what Mexico produces. “This is the risk,” he warned.

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