The domestic steel industry is set to get stronger and long-lasting protection in the form of anti-dumping duties on cheap imports of specified varieties of hot-rolled and cold-rolled coils from China, Japan and South Korea.
The Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties, which launched probes into imports of these primary and secondary products from these countries in April to ascertain whether they caused
injury to domestic industry, is understood to have favoured imposition of duties. If these duties are indeed imposed, the existing minimum import prices (MIPs) will become largely redundant. India has been under pressure in multilateral fora to remove the MIPs seen as an outdated measure that is WTO-incompatible.
When contacted, steel secretary Aruna Sundararajan told FE: “Petitions have been filed for anti-dumping duty and countervailing duties. Both the investigations are at fairly advanced stages. If these (duties) come into effect, they would provide an effective protective mechanism for domestic steelmakers. So, as soon as these are in place, there will be no need for MIP (continuation).”
Asked if there were chances of early imposition of the anti-dumping duty, she answered in the affirmative. The secretary further said after correcting positively till May, steel prices have become very volatile globally and it “seems to be that it would take some time before (the prices) settle”.
Last February, India imposed MIPs in the range of $341-752/tonne on 173 categories of steel. The duties are set to expire on August 31. Besides this, the government has already taken a series of measures aimed at bailing out the domestic steel industry reeling under severe stress for the last two years due to imports at predatory prices, subdued demand and poor prices. It raised the rate of basic customs on both flat and non-flat steel to 15% from 10% in the Budget for 2016-17 and hiked import duty in August 2015 on flat steel from 10% to 12.5%, long steel from 7.5% to 10% and semi-finished steel from 7.5% to 10%.
The government had also imposed in June 2015 an anti-dumping duty for five years on imports of certain varieties of stainless steel from China ($309 per tonne), Korea ($180 per tonne) and Malaysia ($316 per tonne). Further, safeguard duty of 20% was imposed in March 2016 on hot-rolled flat products of non-alloy and other alloy steel, on coils of width of 600 mm or more.
Asked about the latest on the steel industry’s revival package, Sundararajan said, “Part of the revival package has also come into place because of the S4A (scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets) of RBI. A lot of the demands that were placed by the steel firms are already met. So, now we will have to give a little bit of time to see with the new frameworks in place, how far banks are able to bring these firms back to health…we will have to see for a period of 2-3 months before we take next steps.”