Dubai: Baosteel, China's biggest steel producer, has opened a representative office in Dubai as it attempts to boost supplies to the Middle East.

The office in Jebel Ali will study the region's steel imports that have been growing because of the ongoing construction activity in a number of Arab countries.

"The Middle East market will become a new engine of growth for Baosteel," Ye Meng, the company's chief representative for Europe, Middle East and Africa said.


Baosteel exported about 150,000 tonnes of steel products to Middle Eastern countries last year, but it was just a fraction of its 22.5 million tonnes of production.

Salma Hareb, chief executive officer of the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority, said Chinese goods worth Dh18 billion passed through the zone last year.

Baosteel officials said there is no plan at present to set up a steel mill in the UAE but they will look at this possibility if they find a strong partner.

"The Middle East is a strategic market. We will look at investing in the region in a partnership," said Xie Qihua, former chairwoman of the Baosteel group's board of directors.

The steel giant aims to raise its capacity to 30 million tonnes by 2009.