16 Nisan 2011 Cumartesi

Turkish-Russian venture targets Mideast steel market

Turkish Atakaş and Russian MMK have made the biggest investment in steel and iron by the private sector in Turkey’s history in the southern province of İskenderun, an eastern Mediterranean trade port.

Seven plants will produce nearly 2.5 million tons of flat steel and most of the production will be exported to Middle Eastern and North African markets, said the chairman of MMK Atakaş on Wednesday.

“MMK Atakaş invested nearly $2 billion and completed the project in three years,” said Recep Atakaş talking at the opening ceremony of the plants located on 500,000 square meters of land in İskenderun. “This is the biggest investment made by the private sector in the iron and steel industry in the country so far,” said Atakaş.

The facility will produce 2.3 million tons of hot rolled sheets and 1 million tons of cold rolled steel strips, 900,000 tons of galvanized metal and 400,000 tons of painted steel sheets. Atakaş said 40 percent of the production would be exported.

“The facilities here will create 2,500 jobs directly and 10,000 jobs indirectly,” Atakaş said. He said the joint venture purchased 32,000 tons of machinery from Italian Danieli, which ranks among world’s the three largest suppliers of plants and equipment for the metal industry with a net income of 136 million euros by 2009.

Addressing the crowd at the opening ceremony, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “The port of the facility also has great importance as it has the capacity to move 10 million tons.” The prime minister said Turkey’s export champion last year was the automotive industry followed by the steel and iron industry. “Turkey’s automotive industry and steel & iron industry will compete with each from now on,” said Erdoğan. “Such investments are important for Turkey’s challenge to decrease the high current account deficit.”

'Money has no religion'

According to Erdoğan, Turkey should work harder to have its own brands and make them known in all over the world. The prime minister said, “We should not just produce the best automobiles and computers, but also our brands and software.” Erdoğan said, “Turkey used to have eight contraction firms in top 225 global firms list and now the country has 36 firms.” Noting that the Turkish government is ready to support all investors,

Erdoğan said, “The total amount of foreign direct investment has reached from $4.5 billion to $36 billion in last eight years.” Talking about the foreign investments in Turkey, Erdoğan said: “Money has not religion, no ethnicity, no homeland,” adding that “the money is like mercury.” According to Erdoğan, “Turkey is the place where money will flow to.”

Having been among the world’s largest steel producers, Russian Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works OJSC, or MMK, has total of 50 percent shares in the MMK Atakaş. According to official web site of the firm, Russian shareholder produced 11.4 million tons of crude steel and 10.4 million tons of commercial steel products.

“Russian MMK has been importing nearly 1 million tons of steel sheets to Turkey for many years,” said the sales and marketing manager, Cem Üstün talking to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. Üstün said that with the investment in Iskenderun, the Russian shareholder would produce both for Turkish market and have the chance to export Middle Eastern countries, primarily to Iraq, Syria, Israel and Iran.

He said, “The only sheet steel manufacturing facility is located in Saudi Arabia and we are geographically closer to our export targets.” Üstün added that the ongoing unrest in the North African countries would not affect the export plans of the firm. Üstün said, “Morocco and Algeria will be the main export destinations in North Africa.”

Talking to the Daily News, Üstün said Turkey needs nearly 10 million tons of steel sheet annually and the current domestic production was around 7.5 million tons. Üstün said the new facilities of MMK Atakaş supply 1 million ton for the country’s needs and export nearly 1.5 tons of the total production.

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