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No reprieve for M'sia's struggling steel makers

Publication Date : 08-05-2014

 

Struggling steel makers in Malaysia won’t be getting much additional protection from cheaper imports, as the government is committed to honouring Malaysia’s international obligations to promote “freer and fair” trade.

The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) said for the industry to become more competitive, it must achieve greater synergies between its upstream and downstream sectors.

“The government will continue to secure better market access for Malaysia’s steel products through free trade agreements,” it said in a statement.

The statement was in response to reports quoting Lion Group executive chairman William Cheng as saying that its loss-making unit Megasteel Sdn Bhd might need to wind down operations if it doesn’t get import duty protection.

Cheng even said the group was contemplating a move to Indonesia, which he claimed offered a higher level of protection.

Miti had, in February last year, slapped anti-dumping duties on steel wire rods from China, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea for five years, the first such action taken by Malaysia to curtail the influx of artificially cheap steel products into the country.

But this only applied to wire rods, not steel bars or billets.

Meanwhile, Miti said Malaysia had attracted approved investments of 17.1 billion ringgit (US$5.2 million) in the manufacturing sector for the first quarter this year, up 52.7% from 11.2 billion ringgit in the corresponding period of 2013.

Minister Mustapa Mohamed was quoted by Bernama yesterday as saying that the achievement reflected the country’s competitiveness as a location of choice for high value-added manufacturing activities in the region.

He said manufacturing projects approved during the period were expected to generate about 18,677 job opportunities, with a major proportion of employment being in highly skilled occupations.

For the first quarter this year, foreign investments in approved manufacturing projects rose by 45.5% to 13.1 billion ringgit, reflecting the high level of business confidence in the country among foreign investors.

Mustapa said the leading source of foreign investment during the period was Japan (5.9 billion ringgit), followed by Germany (4 billion ringgit) and Singapore (1.2 billion ringgit).

Other notable foreign investments came from South Africa (700 million ringgit) and Taiwan (500 million ringgit).

*US$1 = 3.25 ringgit

 

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