Notwithstanding a fall in steel imports in recent months, the government has extended the minimum import price (MIP) regime for 66 product lines for two more months from October 4. The decision, announced late on Tuesday, may not benefit the local industry much, as import prices are now ruling at much higher levels.
Data released by the Joint Plant Committee (JPC), a unit under the steel ministry, showed that India’s steel imports declined 37.3% during April-September period of current fiscal to 3.6 million tonne (mt); exports grew by 36% to 3 mt and production increased by 9% to 49 mt. However, the slow growth of consumption, which increased by just 2.5% to 40 mt during the first six months, remained worrisome.
Following repeated requests from the local industry, the government had in February imposed a MIP on 173 products for six months. Tuesday’s decision was to continue the MIP for 66 of these items while levying WTO-compatible anti-dumping on the 107 other items. Once the dumping duties are imposed, the MIPs become redundant.
India has been under pressure in multilateral fora to remove the MIPs, seen as an outdated measure that is WTO-incompatible. “The continuation of the MIP is a welcome move for us. But imports of these products are not significant now and in many cases, prices of these materials in the international markets are higher than the MIP,” said an industry source. However, he added that with greater fluctuations in the prices, measures like this always boost the industry morale.
Of the 66 lines where the MIP is in place now, provisional anti-dumping duty on 15 of them (wire rod of alloy or non-alloy products) had already been proposed by the government last week. The domestic industry has sought protection in the form of anti-dumping duty on 21 products of coated sheets, while no action was solicited by the steel ministry for 30 other semi-finished products.
The imports of semis like slabs and billets fell by 22-37%; bars and rods by 41% and corrugated sheets by 2% during the April-August period, JPC data showed.