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Turkish steel producer Tosyali targets US from Algeria mill

Turkish steel producer Tosyali Holding sees opportunities to ship rebar to the US from its new Algeria mill amid a slowdown in domestic demand in the North African country.

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The company has continued to send rebar cargoes to the US from its 2.5 million mt/year DRI plant - the world's largest -- at its Algerian steel works which started production in October last year. Most recently, it shipped 22,000 mt in mid-August, CEO Fuat Tosyali told S&P Global Platts in an interview Wednesday.

The focus on exports from Algeria comes after the US hiked tariffs on imports of Turkish steel, and as Algerian demand faces a downturn amid political uncertainty.

"We have been focusing on export markets, as well as the Algerian market," the CEO said. "We have recently shipped 22,000 mt of rebar to US, which is our fourth shipment to that country since November 2018."

13,000 mt of the company's latest rebar shipment to the US from Algeria went to Houston and the rest to Port Everglades, Tosyali said. The company made its first rebar shipment to US in November, sending a 10,000 mt rebar cargo, as Platts reported.

US TARIFFS

Rebar shipments to the US from Turkish mills fell sharply in the first half of 2019, as US Section 232 tariffs on Turkish steel doubled. Mills' rebar shipments to the US fell to just 18,400 mt in H1, sharply down from 212,700 mt in the same period of 2018, according to the latest Turkish Statistical Institute data.

However, the US government's decision May 17 to halve import tariffs on Turkish steel gave producers some cause for optimism. Turkish mills have shipped some rebar cargoes to the US in recent months, but the volumes were far below expectations.

Tosyali's Algerian steel investment is an important step for Algeria in becoming a steel exporter from a net importer, while it is also helping the company enter the US market through shipments from the plant.

Tosyali started rebar production in Algeria in the second half of 2013 with a capacity of 1.2 million mt/year.

The company's rebar production capacity in Algeria is 3.2 million mt/year, with wire rod capacity of 600,000 mt/year.

"We are currently working at near full capacity," Fuat Tosyali said. "We have only reduced the capacity during the Eid holiday in mid-August. Our production target is to reach 3 million mt in 2019. We are currently focusing on export markets including West Africa, Europe, US as well as Canada."

SLOWING ALGERIAN DEMAND

The company is however facing difficulties in a sluggish Algerian market, local sources said. Algerian political instability has cut steel demand as major construction works are on hold with some rebar buyers also facing cash problems.

Some market sources suggested Algerian demand for this year has fallen to around 5 million mt (of which around 4 million mt is rebar and the rest rod), from 6 million mt/year previously. Some said if the political uncertainty continues, the outlook for steel consumption could be even lower.

Following the resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April and the appointment of an interim president overseen by the military, the country is still waiting for new elections with no date set.

-- Annalisa Villa, annalisa.villa@spglobal.com

-- Cenk Can, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, newsdesk@spglobal.com

S&P Global Platts Global Energy Awards Nomination deadline: September 9, 2019

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