US Steel Serbia turns attention to Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina

BELGRADE (SeeNews) – The Serbian unit of US Steel Corporation is seeking to expand its export markets next year with an eye on other ex-Yugoslav states, such as Croatia and Bosnia, the company’s director general, Michael Fedorenko, said yesterday. «We want to focus on ex-Yugoslav countries, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia,» Fedorenko told SeeNews. «We think that there is market potential for us there,» he added. US Steel Serbia exports more than half of its annual output. It has sold its products on some 40 foreign markets this year, including in Central and Western Europe and China. The steel producer is now seeking to raise the number of its export markets, Fedorenko said. However, the company would also try to expand further into the domestic market. «We really want to continue to grow in the Serbian and the Montenegrin market,» Fedorenko said. «We had some significant success with local companies. We’ll keep that going in 2006,» Fedorenko added. He declined to elaborate on export plans but added that sales abroad would be «at the levels that the market would support,» as US Steel Serbia had first to satisfy the needs of the domestic market. US Steel Serbia exported more than a million metric tons of steel this year, up by some 25 percent compared to 2004. Its output is seen at about 1.2 million metric tons of steel this year. Last year, US Steel Serbia produced 1.1 million tons. «We are still developing our business plan for the next year,» Fedorenko said, adding there was an opportunity to raise the output in 2006. US Steel Corp bought Serbian steelworks Sartid, currently named US Steel Serbia, and six subsidiaries in Smederevo for a total of $33 million (27.6 million euros) in 2003. The buyer pledged to invest $150 million in the Serbian company over a five-year period. In June, US Steel Serbia completed a $33.1 million (27.7-million-euro) upgrade of an idle blast furnace, raising the company’s annual output capacity to 2.2 million tons of steel a year.