Rehda and MBAM to mass import steel

KUALA LUMPUR: The Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) and the Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) will be mass importing steel from neighbouring countries as local steel prices have risen by 10%.

The two bodies would be looking at importing mills from Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and China as steel in the other countries are cheaper, said Rehda deputy president Datuk Michael Yam.

"Just after Chinese New Year, the local steel mills have raised their price by 10%. Steel used to cost RM2,000 per tonne but now they have hiked up the price to RM2,200. Now, our steel prices is the highest in the region," he said after the launch of the 13th Malaysia Property Expo (MAPEX) here on Friday March 19.

Ng added that there is ample supply of steel in the country but the price hike has forced developers to look elsewhere to save costs.

"We are in the midst of importing the first 10,000 tonnes from the region. Shipment is expected to arrive next month," he said.

"It is not that we do not want to support the local steel mills. But when they raise the price so drastically, the onus would be on the homebuyers to pay for the extra costs," he added.

MBAM president Ng Kee Leen who was also present at the launch said local developers have been importing steel from neighbouring countries since March 2009 after the sector was liberalised.

"However, it was only in small amounts because we wanted to support the local industry. With the recent price hike, developers have been asking us to joint-import steel from other countries," he said, adding that about 200,000 tonnes of steel are used a month for construction.

MAPEX’s opening was officiated by Housing and Local Government deputy secretary general Datuk Yeo Heng Hau at the Midvalley Exhibition Centre. The 3-day exhibition will see 51 property developers showcasing over 100 development projects, with total a retail value of RM4.4 billion.

Since its inception in 1993, MAPEX has generated approximately RM6.2 billion in property sales. "Now is the best time to own property since properties prices are still affordable with competitive loan packages. Developers are also doing their part in boosting the demand for properties by offering attractive housing packages which provide low cost entry cost to house buyers," said Yam.

He also expects the soon-to-be implemented Goods and Services Tax (GST) to impact property prices. Some 44% of the properties featured in MAPEX are priced between RM300,000 to RM500,000 while 28% are priced more than RM1 million.

From Left:  MAPEX Organizing Chairman Dato Michael KC Yam, Housing and Local Government deputy secretary-general Datuk Yeo Heng Hau and President REHDA Datuk Ng Seing Liong at the MAPEX 2010 opening. (Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge)


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