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Asian steel producers look to UK for market lessons

Groups from China, India and South Korea search for structural steel uses for home markets

Steel producers from China, India and South Korea are jetting into the UK to find out how structural steel can be used back in their own countries.

The UK has the highest market of steel in construction and overseas suppliers are hoping to learn lessons to ensure their product is used in more buildings back home.

Delegates from steel associations in China and South Korea are due to fly into London in the next month to meet up with executives at the British Constructional Steelwork Association.

Chinese supplier Sino Steel met up with the BCSA just before Christmas and Indian supplier Tata has been working with its Corus subsidiary to set up a section mill in the country, which would be India’s first.

BCSA director general Derek Tordoff said: “These firms are not interested in exporting. What they’re really interested in is developing their own markets.

“They’re interested in why structural steel has a high market share in the UK and how they can get a bigger share in the markets they’re in.

“When they’re over here, they’ll be going on technical sessions, marketing and commercial sessions.”

Mr Tordoff said some suppliers were also looking to set up their own contracting and fabrication arms so they could work on a whole job from start to finish.

He added: “They’re here to learn lessons and explain to their clients about new methods of putting up the frame so they can say to them that the job is finished earlier and they can collect the income on an office block earlier. It may sound obvious to us but it was like that here 30 years ago.”

Suppliers in China have been told by their government to cut down on the amount of steel they export in order to save it for a booming economy, which has been in part fuelled by the summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

In April last year, 7.2 million tonnes of finished steel was exported from China but, according to customs figures, this fell 60 per cent in November to 2.9 million tonnes.

Analysis: UK market has made huge advances

By Paul Thompson

Steel producers from India, China and South Korea looking at the UK structural steel market to learn lessons shows just how far the sector has travelled over the past 25 years.

That our constructional steel sector is being held up as a shining beacon to be admired around the world should be applauded.

The industry has worked tirelessly to become the dominant force in providing structural frames for developers and is constantly looking to extend its advantage over rival materials by pushing the boundaries of its use.

The drop in tonnages of steel exported from China, some 4.3 million tonnes in just six months, shows the Chinese economy is taking the material seriously.

And if the seemingly un-ending supply of consumers in countries like China and India start taking a material seriously, then it can start a band-wagon rolling that would be very difficult to stop.

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