Local steel industry roadmap en route
Producers expected to form plan together
The Industry Ministry will call on local steel manufacturers to collaboratively design a 5-10 year roadmap for the development of the country's steel industry to serve new targeted industries in the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The roadmap plan is aimed at improving the country's steel industry, in line with the S-curve policy, focusing on high-tech manufacturing and special-grade steel products to serve government megaprojects.
Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said most megaprojects are infrastructure, which would make the steel industry the key supplier of construction materials.
"The new steel roadmap will increase long-term core competency for local manufacturers as they can support many industries in the country by providing high quality steel," said Mr Uttama.
"Many megaprojects will be implemented in 2019 and they will increase steel demand, especially for premium products."
He added the new targeted industries also need premium-graded steel. For example, the automotive industry is a key sector for Thailand and demands speciality steel to serve manufacturing.
On Monday, Mr Uttama and high-ranking officials visited steel plants in Rayong that are operated by Kobelco Millcon Steel Co.
The company is a joint venture between Thai and Japanese steel manufacturers that began in February 2016.
The Thai partner, SET-listed Millcon Steel Plc, owns a 50% stake, while Japan's Kobe Steel holds the remaining half.
In 2014, Millcon acquired the assets of Thai Special Steel Industry Plc. Kobe Steel took an equity stake by acquiring new shares, after which equipment was installed and preparations were made for the production of special steel wire rods.
The Rayong plant produces standard-graded and special steel wire rods and enjoys tax incentives from the Board of Investment.
Theerayuth Lertsirarungsun, co-chief executive of the plant, said it will expand the annual production of wire rods to 350,000 tonnes in 2019 and 400,000 tonnes in 2020 to serve the new targeted industries in the corridor.
The company has capacity of 160,000 tonnes per year.
He expects 2019 revenue to grow sharply by more than 50% to 7 billion baht from 3 billion baht, expected in 2018.
"In 2020, we aim to achieve more than 8 billion baht from our new capacity," said Mr Theerayuth.
He said the new expansion will serve the country's automotive industry based on overall car output of 2.1 million units in 2018.
Kobelco Millcon Steel is the first manufacturer in Southeast Asia to produce high-quality steel products to serve not only local carmakers but also other regional countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
Masataka Shimotsusa, co-chief executive of the plant, said the company also exports both standard-graded and special steel wire rods to Vietnam and China for car manufacturing.
The company makes 3,000 tonnes of special steel wire rods a month, said Mr Shimotsusa.
"We are the only manufacturer of wire rods in Thailand and we are more competitively priced than imported wire rods," he said.