Steel industry sees opportunities to reindustrialize Latin America
by Hans Diederichs
The virtuallly held annual Alacero congress brought recovery prospects for economies
With more than 3,000 people, Congreso Virtual Alacero 2020 was held in November 2020 It was the first time that the association's annual event was held entirely online. The meeting presented the current steel industry scenario in Latin America, as well as the perspectives of the most influential experts in the world for the rest of this year, 2021 and the future.
At the opening of the Congress, its president Máximo Vedoya, stressed that “the degree of development of the region shows us that we still have many opportunities to grow. An indicator that we use in the industry is the Apparent Steel Consumption, in Latin America. This consumption of steel is 100 kg per inhabitant, while it is almost 300kg in the United States, but in China it is 630kg per inhabitant. There is room for growth in our countries, whether in the manufacture of durable goods, or in the need for infrastructure, energy and housing".
The first panel of analysts included Dani Rodrik, one of the 100 most influential economists in the world; Andrés Mala-mud, a specialist in democratic institutions, foreign policy and regional integration processes, and Andrés Oppenheimer, a CNN commentator and one of the most influential intellectuals in Latin America. The exhibitions had a common message: education and reindustrialization are necessary to be able to compete in an economy in which the hyper globalized model is exhausted and regional supply chains are being built. The possibility of attracting these chains will depend on the capacity for regional integration and public policies and private actions that contribute to their development. In addition, to do so in an increasingly technological and robotic context, better education systems, greater worker training and social cohesion are required, in a region where inequality is one of the major problems. Moderated by Paolo Rocca, the president and CEO of the Techint Group, who summarized the panel by commenting that "Latin America has a historic opportunity to call for industrial development and the development of its integrated value chain with significant dynamics“.
The Alacero virtual meeting brought the vision of public administrations on the uneven recovery of the economy in the different regions to light. The role of governments in the new context was also discussed with Dr. Graciela Márquez Colín, the Secretary of the Economy of Mexico, who highlighted the role of SMEs and stressed that Latin America should take advantage of relocation to attract companies that migrated to China. "We must make our countries attractive to those companies at a time when global chains are being shortened", she said. For his part, Carlos Alexandre da Costa, the Special Secretary for Productivity, Employment and Competitiveness of the Ministry of the Economy of Brazil indicated that "the reindustrialization process is possible thanks to an adequate macroeconomic environment, but also to a series of micro reforms designed to guarantee a good setting for business". The debate was moderated by Sergio Leite de Andrade, CEO of Usiminas.
At the end of the meeting, participants were able to hear from the CEOs of the largest steel companies in the region their perspectives in Latin America and the challenges faced in all countries. The table had the participation of Máximo Vedoya, CEO of Ternium and president of Alacero; Carlos Zuluaga, CEO of Acesco; Gustavo Werneck, CEO of Gerdau; Jefferson de Paula, CEO of ArcelorMittal; and Raúl Gutiérrez, CEO of Deacero. The debate was moderated by Maria Juliana Ospina, Executive Director of the Steel Committee of the National Association of Industrialists of Colombia (ANDI).
“The Latin American steel industry is extremely competitive in global terms. We have many advantages over Asia, and under fair market conditions make us stand out. Industry is part of the solution for regional integration; It is the engine of social growth, a driver for SMEs and a generator of quality jobs to respond to a Latin America that demands growth, development and, above all, greater inclusion. Latin America has a historic opportunity to really make a difference and return to the path of growth", said Máximo Vedoya, president of Alacero.
Source and graphic: Alacero