George Matta, Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Arab Iron and Steel Union and chief marketing officer in for Ezz Steel, said that steel consumption in the Middle East and North Africa area is expected to reach 40 million tons in 2019 ,With a decrease of 7% compared to 2018, which reached 43 million tons due to the decline in demand In most Arab countries.
Matta expected, during the activities of the annual conference of the iron and steel industry in the Middle East, that demand will improve in 2020 to consumption growth rates of 2%, an increase of one million tons for the year, including 34.1 million tons of rebar, sections and 7 million tons of HRC.
He indicated that GCC area is expected to record an average economic growth rate 1.11% in 2019 compared to 2% in 2018.
The decline in the Gulf area in the growth rates came due to lower oil revenues than expected, due to lower production and lower oil prices since last April.
He added that Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 seeks to diversify the economic activity and increase the managerial index that measures the safety of the manufacturing sector strongly during the second quarter, and the economy in the Emirates and Qatar benefited from the infrastructure projects related to the Expo 2020 in UAE and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
He added that the aforementioned reflected on the steel market, and the increase in imports for the GCC countries, which led to the Gulf Cooperation Council opening an investigation last October to study the impact of imports on the steel market in the GCC countries, and the possibility of imposing protectionist fees to protect the local industry.
He pointed out that the GCC steel imports increased 10% in 2017 and rose to 16% in 2018, when consumption rates in the steel market declined 8% in 2018, consuming 17.8 million tons, and 7.8% in 2019, consuming 16.4 million tons.
He added that steel demand is expected to improve to 1% growth by consuming 16.5 million tons in 2020, driven by the economic reforms adopted by the Gulf countries, to add economic activities to reduce dependence on oil and stimulate the non-oil sector.
As for North Africa, its economic growth rates decreased due to the lower growth rates in (Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco) despite the strong growth in Egypt and Algeria.
He explained that the economic growth rate in North Africa is 3.6% in 2019, compared to 4.2% in 2018, amid positive expectations of an increase to 4.4% in 2020, which is reinforced by structural reforms and major projects in the region.
He pointed out that consumption growth rates in the steel market recorded 7% in 2018 with a consumption of about 20 million tons, and deflation rates in 2019 reached 7% with a consumption of about 18.5 million tons.
He expected consumption in the steel market in North Africa to 19.4 million tons in 2020, with a growth rate of 5%.