Iran to target Asian steel market if Europe backtracks – Official (exclusive)
Tehran, Iran, May 20
By Kamyar Eghbalnejad - Trend:
The head of Tehran Iron and Steel Union said Iran’s market has the potential to replace European firms with Asian ones if the 28-memebr bloc finally decides to follow the US in imposing new sanctions on Iran.
“Currently, there is a high demand from Asian and east Asian countries for Iran’s steel,” Mohammad Azad told the Trend news agency in an exclusive interview on May 20.
The Islamic Republic can easily replace European countries with Asian nations if Europe stops importing Iran’s steel following the US decision to quit the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, he added.
In a speech from the White House on May 8, US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the 2015 agreement between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).
Referring to a recent decision by Italian steel manufacturer Danieli to halt work on finding financial coverage for orders it won in Iran worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) after the US pullout, Azad said, “This company signed a framework commercial agreement with Iran (in 2016) to equip Iranian firms, but refused to do so over concerns of possible lack foreign currency for its finance”.
He noted that the country’s domestic capacities need to be tapped and this could help Iran in the face of the new sanctions.
Elsewhere in the interview, the head of Tehran Iron and Steel Union described Iraq as the largest importer of Iran’s steel, saying, “East Asian as well as some regional Arab nations are also among destinations for Iran’s exports”.
He also said that Iran exported 9 million tons of steel last year and that it plans to export 12 million tons in the current fiscal year.
Steel is the second biggest industry in the world after oil and gas. The commodity was Iran's largest export item after oil, gas and petrochemicals last year, partly because of the slump in domestic construction.
The country has been boosting steel production, targeting an output plateau of 55 million tons per year by 2015.
Iran enjoys an advantage because production costs at the majority of its steelworks are internationally competitive because of low energy prices in the country.
Steel is a strategic commodity for the country of 80 million, which has the Middle East’s biggest carmaker. It is also key to the country's massive oil and gas industry, transportation network, water supply, urban centers and mammoth construction sector.