In­dia turns net im­porter of steel dur­ing Apr-Sep

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - ISHITA AYAN DUTT

Surg­ing steel im­ports have come back to haunt the do­mes­tic in­dus­try. The lat­est fig­ures pro­vided by the Joint Plant Com­mit­tee (JPC) show that In­dia was a net im­porter dur­ing April-Septem­ber. Dur­ing the pe­riod, im­ports of fin­ished steel were up by 20.1 per cent to 4.318 mil­lion tonnes over the same pe­riod last year. But more im­por­tantly, In­dia was a net im­porter of fin­ished steel in Septem­ber, as also cu­mu­la­tively dur­ing April-Septem­ber, which was not the case till Au­gust.

Surg­ing steel im­ports have come back to haunt the do­mes­tic in­dus­try. The lat­est fig­ures pro­vided by the Joint Plant Com­mit­tee (JPC) show that In­dia was a net im­porter dur­ing April-Septem­ber. Dur­ing the pe­riod, im­ports of fin­ished steel were up by 20.1 per cent to 4.32 mil­lion tonnes (mt) over the same pe­riod last year.

But more im­por­tantly, In­dia was a net im­porter of fin­ished steel in Septem­ber, as also cu­mu­la­tively dur­ing April-Septem­ber, which was not the case till Au­gust.

If the JPC fig­ures till Au­gust are stud­ied, it can be seen that In­dia was a net im­porter only for that month, but for the pe­riod April-Au­gust it had main­tained its net ex­porter sta­tus.

Im­ports ex­ceeded ex­ports dur­ing the April-Septem­ber pe­riod by about 534,000 tonnes. Sushim Banerjee, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the In­sti­tute for Steel De­vel­op­ment and Growth, said that hot-rolled coils (HRC) were be­ing im­ported be­cause the ref­er­ence price for the anti-dump­ing duty had been breached as the in­ter­na­tional prices of HRC were now at $570 lev­els.

The govern­ment had im­posed anti-dump­ing du­ties of $478 and $489 a tonne on hot-rolled al­loy and non-al­loy coils and $561 a tonne on hot-rolled steel plates from In­done­sia, South Korea, China, Ja­pan, Rus­sia, and Brazil.

When the govern­ment had fi­nalised the anti-dump­ing du­ties, in­ter­na­tional HRC prices were hov­er­ing at $440 a tonne, he said. Other prod­ucts be­ing im­ported were pipes, wire rods, spe­cial grade wire rods for auto, and coated sheets used by white goods man­u­fac­tur­ers.

On Mon­day, the Cen­tre im­posed the anti-dump­ing duty on im­ports of cer­tain steel wire rods from China for five years.

Vikram Amin, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, sales & mar­ket­ing, Es­sar Steel, said, “Im­ports of hot-rolled coils would ta­per off and will set­tle in within a range,” but ex­pressed con­cern over the in­creas­ing im­ports of colour-coated sheets.

“Th­ese were low-spec­i­fi­ca­tion, cheap ma­te­rial com­ing from Viet­nam. Viet­nam doesn’t pro­duce any HRC, so it is im­port­ing from China. So in a way, the law is be­ing cir­cum­vented,” he pointed out. There is no anti-dump­ing duty against Viet­nam, but there is against China.

How­ever, it’s not just im­ports that are surg­ing. Thank­fully, for the do­mes­tic pro­duc­ers, the trend of buoy­ant ex­ports as seen last year is be­ing main­tained. The ex­port of fin­ished steel was up by 60.1 per cent in April-Septem­ber (4.85 mt) over the same pe­riod last year, while over­all ex­ports in Septem­ber, at 1.11 mt, were up by 20.8 per cent over Au­gust and were up by 70.6 per cent over Septem­ber last year.

In­dia’s con­sump­tion of fin­ished steel saw a growth rate of 4.3 per cent in April-Septem­ber to 42.88 mt over the same pe­riod last year on the back of pro­duc­tion for sale and im­ports. Crude steel pro­duc­tion dur­ing April-Septem­ber was 49.74 mt, a growth rate of 4.5 per cent over the same pe­riod last year.

Over­all crude steel pro­duc­tion in Septem­ber was, how­ever, down 0.9 per cent over Au­gust, but was up 6.8 per cent over Septem­ber last year.

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