Arab Iron and Steel Union 50 years of challenges and achievements
The issuance of the Arab Steel magazine coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Arab Iron and Steel Union, and by virtue of its representation of the Arab steel industry, the union experienced in those decades the stages of growth of the Arab iron and steel industry and had the same challenges that this industry experienced during periods of downturn as well as periods of prosperity.
The steel sector is regarded as the locomotive of growth for all industries, as it is a sector highly affected by all economic changes and the first affected by the economic fluctuations that affect the world from time to time and the accompanying decline in economic growth rates. Therefore, the steel sector is always facing many challenges and confrontations, and the Arab steel industry is not excluded from it.
First: AISU and Arab steel companies have undergone many challenges over those decades, the first and most influential of which is the drop in oil prices, in which governments in some oil-dependent Arab countries are forced to rearrange their priorities from the volume of investments directed to infrastructure and housing projects, as well as investment in the field of industry, which directly affects the the steel demand volume.
Second: The surge in the prices of raw materials imported from iron ore, pellets or scrap with a lack of funding weakens the competition between the national product and the importer. The deterioration of the value of the local currency in some countries had a direct impact on increasing the cost of projects and a slowdown in the implementation of projects and the accompanying economic stagnation.
Third: The invasion of foreign products to the Arab markets as a result of the excess capacity in some countries of the world due to the economic recession, and the low demand for steel in those countries, which led to the search for less protected markets to export their products, most of which were to the Arab countries. The main victim of this invasion was the Arab companies that lost their share in their local market in addition to their inability to compete with international companies in exporting.
Finally: the appearance and spread of the Coronavirus, which has paralyzed the world since the beginning of 2020, which many companies decided to stop production and obliged many workers to work from home and stop inter-trade for several months, which affected the rate of economic growth in all countries of the world and the decline in investments, and the postponement of project implementation. In addition to the geopolitical problems and the internal problems of some Arab countries, which are still severely present.
The most important achievements of AISU with Arab steel companies are the expansion and increase of the production capacity of Arab companies, from about 4 million tonnes in the early seventies to more than 54 million tonnes in 2021, and from crude steel production was about 2 million tonnes to a production of more than 30 million tonnes in 2021.
Second: The introduction of production lines with modern and advanced technologies as most of the steel plants were established in recent decades belongs to the new generation, which was characterized by direct reduction technology and electric furnaces for the availability of natural gas sources in the Arab countries.
Third: AISU worked during the previous years to issue several recommendations urging Arab governments to impose effective measures to protect the steel industry in the Arab countries, as well as taking the necessary measures in facing unfair commercial practices represented by dumping, subsidies or unjustified increase in imports, as the Arab governments began imposing protection fees on some national products and set import quotas to limit the quantities of imported products, which had a good impact on steel companies in Arab countries.
Fourth: AISU worked to encourage mergers to create large entities to be able to compete in regional and international markets, as the steel industry is a strategic industry that constitutes a national symbol and a complementary manifestation of the concept of political independence through joint Arab integration, most notably the Algerian-Qatari Steel Company.
Finally: An economic committee was established to create a database on steel consumption and production in the Arab countries and studying the economic situation and its impact on the volume of production and consumption of steel products to be a reference for Arab steel companies.
AISU did not limit itself with its conferences and seminars, but was keen on daily communication with Arab steel companies and all those interested in the steel industry through a distinguished site that cares about news related to the iron and steel industry in the Arab world and the world, statistics, reports and events organized by the Union to be a link between the Arab and international steel industry.
AISU also encouraged Arab steel industry experts to submit studies and display the latest steel industry technologies and publish them on the Union’s website and in the Arab Steel Magazine to benefit the largest possible number of Arab companies.
In the face of these dynamic and unstable challenges, the Arab Iron and Steel Union finds itself in constant contact with the rapid and continuous development variables of the steel industry, especially concerning local markets and fluctuations in global prices through permanent consultation and exchange of views with member companies and those interested in the steel industry to overcome these challenges together.
The Arab Iron and Steel Union wishes more growth and prosperity for the iron and steel industry, in order to achieve the national goals pursued by the Arab countries.The Arab Iron and Steel Union wishes more growth and prosperity to the iron and steel industry makers to achieve the national goals sought by the Arab countries.
Dr. Kamel Djoudi