The prospects for the development of the ASEAN region took center stage at the prestigious 2023 SEAISI annual conference and exhibition held in Manila from May 22 to 25. This event, titled "Accelerating Progress through Sustainable Development in the ASEAN Steel Industry," gathered 388 participants, including steel producers, traders, and equipment suppliers, to discuss the future of the steel industry in the region.According to Yeoh Wee-Jin, the secretary general at SEAISI, steel demand in the ASEAN-6 is projected to grow by 3.4% to reach 77.6 million tons in 2023, after a marginal increase of 0.3% in 2022. The primary drivers behind this growth are expected to be Indonesia and the Philippines, where the GDP is anticipated to rise by 6-7% year-on-year. The governments of these countries are actively promoting various projects that contribute to their economic progress.Indonesia is set to experience a 5% year-on-year increase in steel consumption, reaching 17.4 million tons this year, according to SEAISI. However, the Indonesian Iron and Steel Association (IISI) holds an even more optimistic outlook, predicting a 7% growth to 17.9 million tons. The construction sector is the main consumer of steel in Indonesia, with a share of 76-78% over the past three years. Infrastructure projects, especially the construction of a new capital in Kalimantan, are expected to further drive this demand. The completion of the second stage of the project by 2029 is estimated to require around 9 million tons of steel.In the Philippines, steel demand is predicted to reach 10.8 million tons, showing a 6% year-on-year increase. Despite economic challenges, such as high inflation and interest rates, the government's commitment to infrastructure and power development projects is expected to support the steel industry. While some participants at the conference remain optimistic about the potential for steel demand to reach 6 million tons, others believe the figure is closer to 4-4.5 million tons. The influx of China-invested IF rebar and section producers, who are engaging in price dumping, has been a cause for concern among local steel suppliers.Malaysia anticipates a 4.1% growth in steel demand this year, following Thailand's 3.7% year-on-year increase, primarily driven by improved consumption in the construction sector. Vietnam is expected to see the slowest growth at 0.8% year-on-year, while Singapore's steel demand is projected to remain stable, as per ASEAN data.The growth prospects for the ASEAN steel industry remain promising, driven by construction projects and infrastructure development in key countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. While challenges persist, including price dumping by foreign investors, the overall outlook suggests an upward trajectory. The 2023 SEAISI conference served as a platform for discussing these trends and fostering collaboration among industry stakeholders.