India’s Steel Ministry is working on strengthening reporting norms for import shipments, and the reporting portal is being ramped up. This comes in the wake of several “suspected” instances of misreporting or under-reporting of shipment details, an official aware of the plans told businessline.

Apart from working on the Green Steel policy and exploring alternative sourcing countries for coking coal, the re-haul of the import reporting portal, called Steel Import Management Systems (SIMS), also feature among the top to-do lists of the Ministry.

The portal, SIMS was developed in 2019. The e-system is patterned of the US Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis model and provides advance information about steel import to the Centre and stake-holders.

Under this, importers of specified steel products will register in advance and provide necessary information. The registration is done online. The information about steel imports are then monitored by the Steel Ministry.

“We are working on strengthening reporting under the SIMS Portal. And this will help increase monitoring of imports. We do have sufficient reason to believe that there have been instances where true picture of import shipments or full / requisite details have not been provided deliberately. Hence, this rehaul now features among the top priorities for the Ministry,” an official said.

Steel imports into India stood at 8.3 million tonnes (MT), up 38 per cent YoY for FY24, while exports stood at 7.4 MT, up 12 per cent. India was a net importer by around 1 MT, as per a Steel Ministry report.

Incidentally, exports have been depressed on account on weak global conditions and stiff competition in Middle East markets following a glut of lower priced offerings from China. Domestic demand (in India) remains strong. Consumption stood at 136 MT for FY24 , up 14 per cent YoY, against this finished steel production which stood at 138.5 MT, up 12.4 per cent YoY.

Monitoring imports

India is reportedly re-negotiating some of its FTA, as it looks to monitor steel imports.

According to a senior Ministry official, negotiations for ‘melt and pour’ are ongoing as an option to curb imports.

In trade parlance, “country of melt and pour” refers to the original location where the raw steel is first produced in a steel-making furnace in a liquid state and then poured into its first solid shape.

“While we are working on the product specific rules of origin which will ensure that only those steel products melted and poured in the country with which India has a trade agreement will be allowed,” the official said adding that this means, FTA benefits are available only to genuine manufacturers in other country rather than those who re-route their products here.