As foreign steelmakers look to Iran, local producers turn overseas
* Some foreign steelmakers planning return to Iran
* But import market likely to be smaller than before sanctions
* Iran has been boosting domestic output, wants to export more
* Global firms could have opportunity to offer technology
By Manolo Serapio Jr and Maytaal Angel
MANILA/LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Any global steelmakers hoping a potential end to sanctions on Iran will fully revive what was once a multi-billion dollar import market for their product will be disappointed as Tehran is boosting local output and expects its own exports to grow.
The Islamic nation's drive to more than triple production to 55 million tonnes by 2025 is not all bad news for foreign firms though, as some are looking to offer technological help developing steel mills or plants to process raw ingredient iron ore.
South Korea's POSCO and a company owned by Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp are among companies gearing up to sell steel to Iran, as international producers scour the world for new customers amid faltering demand from top buyer China.
But Iranian mills have been quietly stepping up production in the face of plunging imports since sanctions were imposed around a decade ago over Tehran's nuclear programme, with World Steel Association (Worldsteel) data showing crude steel output has already grown 60 percent from 2007 to 16.3 million tonnes in 2014. Continuación...