The 20% safeguard duty imposed in mid-September on certain categories of steel has failed to make much of a dent on rising imports. The inward shipments grew by 27.3% to stand at 1.183 million tonne (MT) in October over September, data compiled by the joint plant committee (JPC), a unit under the steel ministry, revealed.
Compared with October last year, imports were up 34% for the month; while for the April-October period, the growth is even higher at 41.7% over the same period last fiscal, at 6.684 MT. Steel imports by India surged by a whopping 71% to touch a record high of 9.31 MT in 2014-15.
To protect domestic steelmakers such as Tata Steel, SAIL and JSW Steel, the government had on September 14 imposed a provisional 20% safeguard duty for 200 days on HR coil, the benchmark steel product.
The industry welcomed the move, but it wants the duty to be extended to the entire value chain.
“Imports at this rate will surpass last fiscal’s record of 9.31 MT. This is mainly because circumventions are taking place on a large scale. Safeguard duty was imposed only on HR coil. This needs to be extended to cover the entire value chain. More trade remedial measures including imposition of anti-dumping duty are required to put a brake on the galloping imports,” said Jayant Acharya, director (commercial and marketing), JSW Steel. He added that steel is coming at below-market prices from China,l which proves that dumping is taking place. Flushed with surplus capacity, exports are a compulsion for Chinese steel mills to remain afloat. Asked whether any such measures are in the offing, steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar told FE, “Steel is a deregulated sector. There will be ups and downs depending upon the prevailing market condition. However, it’s a fact that the industry is passing through a difficult phase. In the past, we have taken some trade remedial measures and will consider taking steps within the ambit of the rules to help industry, if required.”
“Different departments in the government are looking at the industry’s anti-dumping demand seriously,”
he added. Meanwhile, export of steel from India was down by 30% during the April-October period to stand at 2.28 MT, compared with the same period last fiscal.
Exports in October, at 0.256 MT, was down 13.5% over September and lower by 49.7 % compared to October, 2014. Production for sale of total finished steel at 53.322 MT was a decline of 0.4 % during the April-October period over the same period last fiscal. Consumption of steel registered a growth of 4.5 % in April-October 2015-16 to 46.20 MT.
“Steel consumption in October, 2015 at 7.059 MT increased by 13.8 %, compared with September, 2015 and increased by 6.6% compared to October, 2014” the JPC said.