Indian steel industry concerned over low-quality, cheaper imports

Looking beyond the point that few small firms get affected due to curbs on steel imports, cheaper steel dumps into the country will affect the Indian steel industry on the whole

By Sai Nikesh D

In contrast to the government’s moves towards imposition of anti-dumping duties on steel imports into the country, the small-scale firms are concerned over curbs on steel imports into the country.

Steps being taken by the government aimed at protecting domestic steel makers, especially the larger ones, from flood of cheap imports could end up closing scores of small, local firms that process the metal, said the industry analysts and executives, according to the news sources.

These processors currently buy imported steel at up to 20% below India’s pricier, domestic steel, turning it into finished steel products for industrial use, added the reports.

Top sources from Indian Steel Association (ISA) said, “Curbs on cheaper steel imports into India have to be seen in a broader perspective.”

Looking beyond the point that small firms get affected due to curbs on steel imports, cheaper steel dumps into the country will affect domestic material largely, thus, impacting Indian steel industry on the whole, added the sources.

However, ISA is not against the steel imports, but, notably is for growth of domestic industry, the sources stressed.

Amidst domestic concerns, the Government of India, in various cases has taken decisions over curbing of cheaper imports into the country.

According to ISA, Indian steel industry has been witnessing very large imports (at an order of 1 MT/month) since September 2014 and as a result of large imports since the said-period, domestic steel industry witnessed 20% drop in prices as of May 2015.

Informing that India is currently under negotiations with China and other Asian countries over Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEPA), the steel association 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.

The government, on June 18, 2015, had imposed 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; among others.

Prior to June, the Central Government, upon the recommendations by the Customs Authority, had also taken decision over imposition of 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 article was published in The Dollar Business on July 10, 2015

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