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Metal Casting Technologies : June 2007
www.metals.rala.com.au 8 BRIEFINGS prices", zero import duty for import of raw materials for foundries, ban on foundry commodities in commodity trading and reduction of interest rate on working capital for foundries and engineering units. Selling into China Ford Motor Company, the largest US- based auto group, reported a 16.4% rise in sales in China during its first quarter, compared to a year ago. Ford said that 42,746 units had been sold in China, helped by introducing its S-Max and Focus models, and the development of its auto-financing business. Sales of Ford's high-end models, such as Jaguar and Land Rover, jumped 30% to over 4,000 units. Ford's joint venture with Chongqing and Mazda, the Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Company, reported a 19% increase in sales in the first quarter. Ford said it plans to increase production capacity by the end of 2007. New Molybdenum Smelter for Korea A new Molybdenum smelter has been opened in Korea, the world's fifth- largest steelmaking nation, to cut costs and export to Japan and Taiwan. Molybdenum is used to strengthen alloys with prices increasing by 25 percent in the past year. Korea Resources Corporation said that the smelter, located in Yeosu, 455 kilometers south of Seoul, will have initial production capacity of 6,000 metric tons a year, making it the world's seventh-largest. The plant, which will supply about half its output to Posco, may double its capacity starting next year. The smelter will help South Korea, Asia's third-largest economy, reduce dependence on refined imports from China and Chile and tap rising demand from steel mills. "It's a smart move," said Mark Pervan, head of research at Daiwa Securities SMBC, in Melbourne. "There's going to be very strong underlying demand for nickel substitute products like molybdenum and chromium," over the next three to four years, he said. The new smelter will initially meet 35 percent of domestic demand and save about 130 billion won ($140 million) in imports, the government-owned energy and mineral resource explorer said. The plant will meet 70 percent of domestic demand when it doubles capacity. Titanium Subsidiary for Pangan Group A leading iron and steel manufacturer in China's south western province of Panzhihua, Panzhihua Iron & Steel (Group) Co, has set up a subsidiary to deal in titanium manufacturing. Panzhihua Iron & Steel Group, which is the largest iron and steel manufacturing base in Western China, is also the largest manufacturer of titanium material and titanium dioxide Vietnam Automobile Industry Bustling With economic growth rates ranked among the highest in Southeast Asia and ever-increasing living standards, Vietnam is becoming an increasingly appealing market for foreign automobile manufacturers. A lot of Vietnamese people can afford to buy a car, and the number will increase very rapidly, even though the taxes are still high and infrastructure not very good," said Kijeld Michael Olsen, general manager of Motocare A/S Kjaer Group, the exclusive supplier of Nissan automobiles in Vietnam. The new car market promises to be bustling because of Vietnam's fast-growing economy, including GDP expected to rise and market demand to grow fast said Olsen. Motocare, although a newcomer to the Vietnamese market in 2004, saw a 300 per cent in sales volume from 2005 to 2006. You can say we are a small company, but we have grown a lot. We expect to double our sales here in Vietnam in 2007," said Olsen. Ford Vietnam Ltd general director Timothy D. Tucker said Vietnam's economy and GDP would grow even faster with a more open market. All industries were expected to grow, creating a major opportunity for Ford, he said. According to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturing Association (VAMA), total sales recorded by its eleven members in December increased by 62 per cent from the previous month and up 27 per cent over the same month in 2005. The unexpected rise in sales volume in December helped raise total sales by domestic and joint venture automobile makers. 2007 was off to a flying start, with VAMA reporting a 152 percent rise over the first month of 2006. Consumer demand for new cars, now staying at a humble level of around 40,000 units per year, would climb to 200,000-300,000 cars per year, said one market observer. Whether this would be realised would depend heavily on Vietnamese Government policy, noted Toyota Motor Vietnam president Nobuhiko Murakami, whose company commands a 36.2 per cent share of the Vietnamese market. "However, personally, I think Vietnam's automobile industry has great potential due to the country's quick and stable economic growth," Murakami said. "If the auto industry continues developing, both foreign- invested and local car makers will be able to co-exist and grow further." Olsen also expressed his belief that both automobile assembly and spare parts production would continue expanding in Vietnam.