Thailand's steel demand this year will increase by 13 to 20% thanks to an expected recovery in the automobile, electrical-appliance and property sectors, as well as the government's investment projects, according to the Iron and Steel Institute of Thailand.

Institute director Wikrom Vajraragupta said that if the Map Ta Phut problem could be solved this year, which would allow construction work at many petrochemical projects to proceed, demand is likely to rise to the maximum forecast of 12Mt, up from 10Mt in 2009.

But if the crisis remains unsolved this year, Wikrom said, minimum steel demand should be 11.5Mt, an increase of 13% from last year's steel consumption.

About 60% of steel demand is for the construction of property projects and government-planned infrastructure projects such as roads and rail lines. The remaining 40% will be used in the automotive, electrical appliance and other industries.

The forecast is based on an assumption that Thailand's auto production this year will hit a record high of 1.4M units, and on the government's planned spending under its Thai Khemkhaeng stimulus programmes.