Japan firms looking to set up steel plants in east

Written by Rohit Khanna | ROHIT KHANNA | Kolkata | Updated: Mar 31 2010, 05:17am hrs
In the absence of good quality flat steel production in India, Japanese companies are showing interest in setting up steel plants in the eastern region, said Fujio Samukawa, consul general of Japan in Kolkata.

According to him, a few Japanese companies have already visited West Bengal to assess infrastructure facilities in the state. None of them has finalized anything yet, but they are interested in the region, he said.

There is dearth of good flat steel in India. So the Japanese automobile manufacturers have to import them. This has prompted Japanese steel companies to set up steel plants in the country, he added.

In fact, Nippon Steel Corporation, which is setting up a 600,000 tonne automotive cold-rolled steel sheets plant at Jamshedpur , is planning to open an office in Kolkata by in June this year.

Kobe Steel has already opened a subsidiary unit in Kolkata to market its steel production machinery in India. Kobe Steel supplies steel bar rolling mills and wire rod mills, continuous casters, non-ferrous metal rolling mills (primarily copper and stainless steel), hot and cold isostatic presses and metal presses.

Eastern Indian states like West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa are rich in minerals. This is a major attraction for Japanese companies. In fact, we expected more Japanese investments in this part of India , said Samukawa. Although there is no confirmation from JFE Steel, but we hear that they are interested in collaborating with JSW Steel, he added.

Sumitomo Metals has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Bhushan Steel Ltd to receive an OEM supply of steel sheets.

Commenting on the investment climate in the state, Samukawa said Maoists are not a major problem in the state, at least for Japanese companies. West Bengal lacks infrastructural facilities, he said. So far Maoists are not targeting projects. Their attack is aimed more towards state authorities or police.

Samukawa thinks that although incidents like Singur had an impact on Japanese investors but lack of infrastructure is a bigger concern for Japanese companies.