Throughout almost the whole year 2002, Russian metal companies issued forecasts about the expected crisis in the sector and demanded more liberal tax policies. However, the first quarter of 2003 revealed bright results in the domestic metal sector, such as production growth and a high profitability level.
Among surprising results posted by metal companies in the first quarter of this year, analysts mentioned an increase in rolled ferrous metal by 7.2 percent to 12.2m tons compared to the first three months of 2002. Even brighter results were reported by pipe producers. After the winter increase in steel prices by 12 to 15 percent, pipe producers announced that their production became practically unprofitable. However, despite these statements, production of steel pipes went up 12.4 percent to 1.3m tons in the first quarter of 2003. Experts explained that these achievements became possible due to several reasons, including a rise in exports, especially to Southeast Asia, success of domestic oil companies and higher demand for metal products from shipbuilders, the Izvestia newspaper reported.