Zawya cited Dr Khalid Al Sulaiman the ministry''s Undersecretary for Industry Affairs as saying that Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry intends to restore export of steel and cement during the H1 of 2009.
According to a report in the Al Riyadh newspaper, the ministry is keen to support steel plants and the decision to lift the ban on exports followed a study of the situation of those factories.
Mr Al Sulaiman said that the state is now giving the steel industry special attention by adopting the national industry strategy. He was speaking during the signing of an agreement between Mr Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi & Sons an industrial holding company and the Saudi Fransi Bank. The deal involves SAR 2.8 billion finance to expand the firm''s steel production.
He said that the Saudi steel industry has been affected by global changes and added that prices of raw materials have seen very high hikes over the past 18 months. The peaks were followed by severe troughs that have adversely affected the industry though it was less compared to other countries. There is a big reserve of raw materials and manufactured steel. The rise in reserves has pushed some countries to sell, giving the impression that this is a dumping situation.
He added that the GCC Dumping Committee is studying more than one case to verify whether there are cases of dumping of steel or its products. The ministry will not maintain silence over the dumping cases or any illegal practices whether from inside or outside the country.
Mr Al Sulaiman said that his ministry has banned the import of steel products that are not compatible with the Saudi standards. It has also exempted some contractors from customs tariffs to alleviate the steel demand crisis, but it was a temporary measure.
Meanwhile, the ministry has received several export requests from cement companies and it is in the process of studying them.
He denied that companies are being forced to sell cement for SAR 10 per bag. Rather sales will increase on rising supply and demand, which is in line with the demands of cement companies.