The Vietnamese steel industry could face difficulties in reaching its growth rate target of 2-3 percent this year.

Slower growth in the steel industry might be due to low demand, abundant supply and increasing material prices, according to the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA).

Statistics released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade indicate that in the first 11 months of the year, both steel output and sale decreased from the same period last year.

Specifically, iron and steel output in the period saw a 10.8 per cent decrease to 2.48 million tonnes, though laminate steel was 2.61 million tonnes, increasing 25 percent.

The association also said steel prices saw a slight change due to supply over demand, noting that steel imports were still high during the period, despite weak demand.

Figures from the General Statistics Office revealed that Vietnam shipped 2 million tonnes of steel, worth 1.61 billion USD, during the January-November period, posting a 17 percent rise against the corresponding period last year.

However, steel import in the period reached 8.9 million tonnes, with the total amount of 6.25 billion USD, representing a 27 percent year-on year surge. The sector also saw a 2.64 billion USD trade deficit during this period.

VSA chairman Pham Chi said the industry's trade deficit during the period was caused by producers importing hot laminate steel to be used as cold laminate steel, flat steel and colour-plate corrugated iron production for exports.

Cuong added that exports of the items during the period rose 30-40 percent in comparison with the same period last year.

He added that one of the sector's biggest difficulties was with limited capital, which much depended on loans. In addition, it has also relied on imported materials and backward technologies, resulting in high production costs and low competitiveness.

The association said steel producers should gradually eliminate old-fashion technologies to save production costs, while striving to expand export markets.

The businesses were urged to organise export networks targetted to large and long-term potential markets. They should also have a deeper understanding about laws of export countries, to avoid possible lawsuits.

The Vietnam Competition Agency announced on December 3 that steel imports from mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China’s Taiwan will be subject to anti-dumping taxes, ranging from 6.45 per cent to 30.73 percent for first time offenses.

The ruling was the result of a five-month inspection by the agency on steel imports from these countries, following complaints from Posco VST Company and Hoa Binh Inox Joint Stock Company, which accounted for 80 percent of the Vietnamese steel market.

The agency said manufacturers from these countries and territories have sold their steel to Vietnam at prices indicating they were dumping steel.

VCA will levy anti-dumping duties within 120 days on steel imports from those exporters.

A 6.45 percent anti-dumping duty will also be applied for China's Fujian Southeast Stainless Steel Co Ltd, while the respective figures for Lianzhong Stainless Steel Corporation and Fujian Southeast Stainless Steel Co Ltd are 6.99 percent and 6.68 percent, according to VCA.

Additionally, PT Jindal Stainless Indonesia and other Indonesian steelmakers will bear a 12.03 percent duty when exporting steel to Vietnam.

Bahru Stainless Sdn Bhd and other Malaysian manufactures will be subject to a 14.38 percent tax.

The highest duty, 30.73 percent, will be imposed on Taiwan's Yuan Long Stainless Steel Corp, while Yieh United Steel Corporation and other Taiwanese steelmakers will be subject to a 13.23 percent tax.

The anti-dumping tax levels were lower than proposals from the two plaintiffs, which asked for duties ranging from 20 percent to 39.9 percent to be applied for five years.-VNA