Vietnam ministry asks surging steel price be contained

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade has called for measures to stabilize steel prices after they shot up six times, or US$137, a ton in four weeks as of early this month.

Steel retail prices have risen by around VND600,000 ($31.57) a ton in the first three months this year.

The ministry asked cities and provinces to have steel producers in their area focus on production to avoid shortages and keep them from raising prices unreasonably.

Local market management agencies were asked to watch out for steel speculation and stop the activity, if any, which the ministry called in its statement "a business fraud that causes losses to state budget and affects consumers".

The ministry also asked the Vietnam Steel Association to speed up work to put steel billet factories into operation so that the metal makers won't be so dependent on imports.

Most steel makers have blamed the increasing world steel and billet prices for the local price rise.

The Vietnam Steel Cooperation has been asked to save money for the industry by thinning out the distribution channel so that steel can reach customers with minimum middle players.

Steel firms have to announce discounts given to distributors, declare their quality and prices, and try to prevent market shortages, the ministry said.

Vietnam Steel Association members consumed 1.22 tons of steel in the first quarter, up 60 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.

Steel consumption in March increased 88 percent from the same period last year to 568,000 tons.

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