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Asia Minute: Korean Steelmaker Places Big Bet on Thailand Production

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One of the world’s biggest steel companies is expanding its presence in Southeast Asia. It’s a story that combines global business strategy, shifting corporate priorities and evolving roles for two Asian economies. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.

South Korea’s biggest steelmaker is opening an automotive steel producing plant in Thailand.  POSCO is the fifth largest steel company in the world, according to the World Steel Association.  By the way, 13 out of the 15 top steel producers are based in Asia…..8 of them in China.

POSCO says the specialty product it will make in Thailand is extremely profitable--and challenging to manufacture.  In fact, the company says that out of about 800 steel companies around the world, only 20 can produce the zinc-coated steel sheets used in making cars.  It’s POSCO’s first specialty factory in Thailand—which has become a regional hub for the automobile industry.

The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers says fully half of Southeast Asia’s car production comes from Thailand—2 million autos every year.  Brands include Toyota, Honda, Ford, BMW and Mercedes Benz, among others.  For the Korean steelmaker POSCO, the new $300 million dollar plant is part of a developing strategy—increasing its overseas investments.  The company also has plants in China, India and Mexico.  CEO Gwon Oh-joon told reporters the company will undergo further expansion next year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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