Iran aims for annual steel exports of 20-25 million tonnes by 2025

16 February 2017

Iran aims to export 20 to 25 million tonnes of steel annually by 2025, it said in an official statement on Wednesday, up from a previous goal of 10 million tonnes.

Tehran has sought to boost the steel sector as it targeted economic expansion following the 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme and has worked to attract foreign investment.

However, while it has succeeded in adding steel capacity, political and logistical hurdles are high and the lifting of international sanctions has not opened up the country as quickly as first expected.

The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation (IMIDRO), in the statement published on its website, quoted a member of the Expediency Discernment Council -- a body that mediates between Iran's parliament and the Guardian Council -- as saying Iran foresaw exports of 20-25 million tonnes of steel by 2025.

That compares with an export goal of 10 million tonnes outlined by Tehran before the nuclear deal. An overall target of 55 million tonnes per year for total Iranian steel production was unchanged in Wednesday's statement, which followed a two-day steel conference in Tehran.

The global steel market is around 1.6 billion tonnes and analysts say there is little need for more capacity given global oversupply for the foreseeable future.

Iran says its current production is around 1 percent of the world total -- or 16 million tonnes.

IMIDRO did not respond immediately to requests for further information.

The European steelmakers' association Eurofer says Iran has increased exports of hot rolled flat steel rapidly to the European Union (EU) market and has accused Iran of "trade distorting measures".

A European Commission source, who asked not to be named, said the EU executive has until April 7 to decide whether to impose anti-dumping penalties on Iran following an investigation into whether the country has been selling steel at below market prices.

Although they acknowledge Iran has expanded its steel industry, shipping sources say many firms are wary of trading with Iranian counterparts and Western banks are unwilling to finance any trade for fear of U.S. penalties.

Iran could also run short of iron ore given the complexity of trade with the nation and is considering export duties on iron ore to help maximise availability for its domestic steel mills, industry sources say.