middle east and africa region is logging significant growth riding the boom in oil as well as non-oil based business sectors. recent data shows lightweight vehicle assembly in the region is slated to grow by 4.8% to almost 1.3 million units in 2017. despite uncertainty and volatility in the international market lv assembly is expected to jump by 5.5% to reach 529 thousand units in 2017 predominantly due to stronger exports. earlier, mea has been relying more on imports to cater to the domestic demand for automotive aluminium sheet. currently, it is consuming a lot of in-country produced aluminium rolled products.
according to global trade data, major countries in the mea namely saudi arabia, uae, qatar, bahrain, oman, and egypt in a combined manner imported 377476 tonnes of aluminium plates, sheets and strips in 2014. since then, the import volume has declined year-on-year. in 2016, they imported 352560 tonnes of aluminium plates, sheets and strips.
in 2017, the total aluminium plates, sheets and strips import by mea is estimated to reach 352797 tonnes (0.06% yoy). automotive aluminium sheet forms a major application segment of aluminium rolled products (plates, sheets& strips).
globally, the demand for automotive aluminium rolled products is rising driven by the light vehicles market. automakers are racing ahead time to make each and every vehicle model going out of their plant light in order to comply with the stricter emission rules.
in south africa, a strengthened rand against u.s. dollar and euro led to increased car sales in 2016 and 2017-beginning. the year 2016 also saw the local automotive sector attract major investments from ford and chinese state-owned car manufacturer, beijing automotive international corp (baic).
overall, autofacts forecasts an annual growth rate of 6.0% for the automotive sector to reach over 3.5m units by 2023 in the mea region.