Domestic steel sales of the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA) member companies rose in the first quarter, reaching 2.5 million tones – a 25 percent increase on the year.

The domestic steel industry produced 2.7 million tonnes in the first quarter, up 17 percent over last year.

More than half of the steel consumed – 1.29 million tonnes – was construction steel, which saw a year-on-year increase of 10.5 percent.

Construction steel sold in March hit 651,633 tonnes, increasing 160 percent over last month and by 14.4 percent compared with the same period last year.

Nguyen Van Sua, Vice Chairman of the VSA, attributed the increase in steel consumption to the market's overall growth in March and the first quarter.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) edged up 6.03 percent in the first quarter. The industrial and construction sector posted growth of 8.25 percent.

The Government has promulgated policies to support the country's economic development, including the property market, warming up the construction materials market and helping boost steel consumption, according to the VSA.

Despite positive domestic consumption, the sector exported 390,162 tonnes in the first quarter, a slight decrease compared with 392,132 tonnes in the same period last year.

The domestic steel market would see more change after free trade agreements were signed, economic experts said.

They urged the VSA, ministries and agencies to prepare to manage the quality of steel imported to Vietnam. Trade defence measures were also needed to protect domestic producers.

Enterprises were also advised to improve technology, administrative efforts and competitiveness so they could integrate more effectively in the future.-VNA