Rise in duty on steel product imports inadequate: Indian Steel Association

As a result of large imports since September 2014, domestic steel industry witnessed 20% drop in prices as of May 2015.

By Sai Nikesh D

Amidst concerns from domestic industry over raising steel imports into the country, Government of India on Wednesday, increased basic customs duty on imports of steel products.

Under this move, customs duty on imports of more than 400 steel products (a majority of them falling under the 8-digit HS Code levels) have been increased from 5%-to-7.5%-to-10%. The products include,  Iron and non-alloy steel ingots; Semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel; Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width of 600 mm or more, cold-rolled, plated or coated; Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width of 600 mm or less, cold-rolled, plated or coated; Bars or rods, hot-rolled, in irregularly wound coils, of iron or non-alloy steel; Other bars and rods of iron or non-alloy steel, not further worked than forged, hot-rolled, hot-drawn or hot-extruded, but including those twisted after rolling; Other bars and rods of iron or non-alloy steel; Angles, shapes and sections of iron or non-alloy steel; Wire of iron or non-alloy steel and Wire of stainless steel.

Dr. Sanak Mishra, Secretary General, Indian Steel Association (ISA), said, “Government’s move is positive, but, a small step and inadequate for domestic steel industry which has been witnessing very large imports (at an order of 1 MT/month) since September 2014.”

As a result of large imports since the said-period, domestic steel industry witnessed 20% drop in prices as of May 2015, he added.

The Secretary General further informed that India is currently under negotiations with China and other Asian countries over ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEPA)’ and sought ‘Steel industry to be kept out of that agreement in view of the fact that RCEPA facilitates exports by offering concessions, which, in case of Steel would further affect the domestic industry.’

Commenting on government’s move, H Shivramkrishnan, Chief Commercial Officer, Essar Steel India, said, “The increase in import duty by 2.5% on steel imports is a step in the right direction.”

However, additional tariff and non-tariff measures are required to ensure cheap and unfair imports do not damage the domestic steel industry which has invested significant capital and has long term plans of meeting ‘Make in India’ vision, he added.

Meanwhile, Atul Kumar, President, Indian Importers Association (IIA), termed the move as ‘anti-consumer’ and said, “It is under pressure of domestic manufacturer whose cost of production is more due to old machinery and inefficient running.”

While the industry reacts this way, the Union Steel Minister hopes that the domestic steel units would now get the much-needed relief from cheaper imports.

Earlier in this month, the Central Government, upon the recommendations by the Customs Authority, had decided to impose anti-dumping duty on steel imports from People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia, in a move to protect domestic industry from over-dumping of low quality of steel and its products.

This was published in The Dollar Business on June 18, 2015

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