Vietnam was estimated to export around 1.87 million tonnes of steel and steel ingot this year, a 44.5 percent increase from 2010 figures, Vietnam Steel Association chairman Nguyen Chi Cuong said.

"This year, export of cold-rolled steel, stainless steel, steel bars and zinc-coated steel sheets all increased significantly in comparison with last year," Cuong said.

On special thing, Cuong informed the country imported more than 285,000 tonnes of pig iron this year.

"This is strange as Vietnam has never before exported steel ingot - in previous years. The country has needed to import pig iron to serve domestic production," said Cuong.

Giving reasons for the increase in steel exports, Cuong said trade promotion schemes had shown a positive effect.

"These programmes have helped companies find partners in foreign countries," Cuong said.

Cuong said many foreign-backed steel companies and steel-ingot manufactures based in Vietnam had begun operation and exporting their products to their own countries and throughout the world.

"One important factor is that the steel supply in the domestic market is now exceeding demand so companies need to export," he said.

According to Cuong, exports had helped lower the trade deficit related to steel production, as local steel consumption had dropped due to stalled investment projects.

Cuong said that the association planned to work closely with businesses to expand markets and maintain a positive export turnover.

He said good quality, competitively-priced steel tubes, cold-rolled steel and zinc-coated steel sheets had consistently sold well in the US as well as Indonesia , Thailand and Malaysia .

In the first nine months of the year, the association's members produced 3.7 million tonnes of steel, a year-on-year increase of more than 5 percent./.