Malaysia aims to become a leading Asian steel exporter by the year 2020, said a government spokesman. "We do not want to be known as just a major steel manufacturer, but as a producer of consistently high quality steel products," said the spokesman. The country is embarking on an ambitious plan to become industrialized and sees the steel industry as a yardstick of progress. The government has called on local steel companies to be more innovative in manufacturing new products and reducing the country's dependence on imported steel. Malaysia's rapid development and large construction projects, such as its 3.6 billion dollar airport and a new high-technology information zone, have caused demand for steel products to soar. In a move to shore up the steel industry, the government has recently absorbed the hefty debts of the nearly bankrupt Perwaja steel plant in northern Kedah state. "We believe we can use the Perwaja experience to help guide us to future success," said the spokesman.