The Malaysian Iron and Steel Industry Federation (MISIF) is hoping that the government will introduce an anti-dumping law for steel products being imported into Malaysia.

Its president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said the local industry at present was being pressured by an influx of cheap metal, especially from China.

Thian said the threat of dumping was also happening in other countries and they were finding ways to restrain such imports.

He also said that the local steel industry was at present working at an average 50% utilisation rate and hoped the government could boost consumption of local steel products.

On the industry's performance, Thian said steel consumption declined slightly from 2011, but remained above 8.Mt. On a per-capita basis, Malaysian steel consumption declined over the past few years, from a per capita high of 307kg in 2008 to just 284kg in 2011.

MISIF expects that with several proposed mega projects in the pipeline, the demand for steel will grow at about 3-4% per annum above the current annual consumption to 8.7Mt in 2013 and 9.1Mt in 2014.

"However, the overall outlook for the domestic steel industry remains uncertain, in view of the tough external environment. There are no signs of an immediate recovery yet, given the weak global economy and sluggish external environment will continue to weigh down on any potential recovery in steel prices, " Thian added.

Operating margins of Malaysian steel producers will continue to be under pressure for the second half of this year, and until early next year.

Abridged from: Daily ‘The Star’, Kuala Lumpur, through ‘Bernama’ (Malaysian National News Agency).