Saudi Arabia’s leading steel manufacturers took the stage at the recent 13th Arab Steel Summit to elevate a discussion of how the government and private sector can work together to ensure the future competitiveness of one of the nation’s most strategically significant industries that could greatly contribute to the success of Vision 2030’s economic development agenda.
The National Committee for the Steel Industry (NCSI) sponsored a dedicated one-day strategy conference at the annual Arab Steel Summit held in Amman, Jordan. The event spotlighted both the current and potential future economic impact of Saudi steel producers as well as serious threats to an industry that has made Saudi the 18th largest steel producing country globally and the largest in the Arab world.
“We established NCSI under the guidance of the Council of Saudi Chambers to recognize the importance of ensuring the future impact of a strategic Industry that plays a crucial role in economic development as one of the most important industries that will help diversify non-oil sources of income, the main objective of the Saudi Vision 2030,” said Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, Chairman of Council of Saudi Chambers.
“The Arab Steel Summit was an important platform for us to start to address the reality of the current challenges our industry faces,” said Engineer Rayed Abdullah Al-Ajaji, NCSI Chairman. “Despite the fact that so many of our manufacturers are producing at less than 50% capacity due to unfair competition, as a country we are a net importer of steel.”
Al-Ajaji added: “We are leaving billions of economic value on the table. We have an opportunity today to work together to stop that and keep this revenue in the country to help achieve our ambitious national growth plans. The steel industry is strategically important to our economic future. Our country has invested billions over the years in world-class facilities that manufacture the highest quality steel products and we must work together to ensure it remains competitive and thriving.”
NCSI reports that the Saudi market requires more than 20 million metric tonnes of steel products today to meet current domestic demand, a number that will continue to increase as more Vision 2030 development and infrastructure projects come online. However, approximately 55% of that total domestic demand is supplied through imports, while actual production drops to less than 50% of the capacity available due to unfair competition.
“The objective of NCSI and the Council of Saudi Chambers is to work with our government partners to activate and enforce common standards and rules that help ensure a level playing field for Saudi companies to best compete in both domestic and international markets while improving overall safety standards,” said Mohammed Al-Jabr, NCSI Vice-Chairman. “In doing so, we have the opportunity to become a model for the country to implement fair and reciprocal trade that reflect best international practices and frameworks set up by the World Trade Organization for all Saudi economic sectors.”
As part of its effort to promote growth in the Saudi steel industry, NCSI will organize the Saudi International Iron and Steel Conference in March 2019 in Riyadh. This will be the first international steel summit to be held in Saudi that brings together local, GCC and global industry leaders to address critical issues that impact the future of the steel industry.
Among the topics of interest Saudi steel leaders will explore at this conference include:
• New technologies, manufacturing practices and certification standards to protect quality and safety of both domestically produced and imported steel products;
• Promoting a common approach to a fair and competitive steel market both domestically and across the GCC;
• Addressing the challenge of scarcity in raw materials and feedstock to support future production growth;
• Economic integration and trade among Arab countries; and
• Employment growth potential of the Saudi steel industry and efforts to develop the next generation of local leaders to drive the future of Saudi’s steel and industrial sectors.
“The steel industry is one of the key non-oil producing industrial sectors that will help drive the Saudi economy of the future. We have a responsibility to work together to help create a more stable foundation to ensure that this industry delivers on its potential for the benefit of all. We will use this first-ever local industry summit to help build our roadmap for the future of Saudi steel,” said Abdulaziz Al-Hudaib, NCSI Vice-Chairman.
The National Committee for the Steel Industry is a non-profit organization with a mandate to meet the challenges of the development and growth of the steel industry sector with the goal of realization of Saudi Vision 2030. The group is responsible for creating an attractive environment for investment and employment, developing a culture of industrial and communal responsibility and engaging with industry members to address their challenges and champion their development.