Steel companies have urged the government to stop the dumping of steel by Iran through the United Arab Emirates at a much lower price.

In a letter written to Binoy Kumar, Secretary Steel, the Indian Steel Association said it is alarming that steel imports to India from the UAE are growing at a fast pace and is expected to go up over three times to 2.34 lakh tonnes (1.18 lt) this fiscal.

Imports from the UAE, at 1.75 lt in the first nine of this fiscal, has already surpassed imports during the whole of last year.

On the other hand, shipments, directly from Iran, have come to standstill from the 34,330 tonnes logged in FY18.

Of the overall imports from the UAE, flat steel accounted for 65,000 tonnes. Conventionally, the UAE is a net importer of flat steel products. Iran offers hot-rolled coil prices at $450 a tonne against China’s quoted price of $515 a tonne, including ocean freight of $25.

Consequently, the landed cost of shipment from Iran works out to ₹36,350 a tonne, against China’s ₹41,600 a tonne.

Steel imports from Iran, or transhipment from the UAE, must be banned since it is a grave violation of the US sanction and can attract retaliatory measures by on India, said Bhaskar Chatterjee, Secretary General, ISA.

Steel imports, at predatory prices, pose a serious challenge to the Indian steel industry, he added.

The top-three Iranian steel producers – Mobarakeh Steel Company, Khouzestan Steel Company and Esfahan Steel Company – are subsidiaries of government-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation, which is under US economic sanctions, said the letter.

The three companies have a cumulative production capacity of 13.6 million tonnes.

Over the last eight years, Iran has ramped up its capacity to 34 mt from 19 mt in 2011, and has emerged as the world’s 10th largest steel producer.

Last year, Iran’s production increased 89 per cent to 25 mt against 13.2 mt logged in 2011. However, domestic demand decreased to 7.4 per cent to 19.6 mt (21 mt) in the same period. Exports from the country jumped 31 times to 9.3 mt (0.3 mt), while imports fell 79 per cent to 1.8 mt (8.6 mt).

Unchecked importsfrom Iran, which ships 30 per cent of its exports to Asean countries, pose a major threat to Indian steel companies, said Chatterjee.