Economy

Minister: govt looking at FTAs, imports hurting steel, rubber sectors

Debabrata Das New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. (file photo)

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No decision yet on another round of import duty hike

The government is closely monitoring steel imports, but no decision has been made so far on hiking import duty again.

“The steel and rubber industries are suffering from cheap imports and free trade agreements (FTAs). We are aware of the situation,” Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Thursday at the sidelines of a rubber industry event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Tomar declined to comment on whether the import duty will be hiked for a third time this year. On August 12, after the first round of yuan devaluation by China, the Finance Ministry hiked import duty on key steel products by 2.5 per cent. Earlier, on June 17, the Ministry had hiked import duties by 2.5 per cent flat products and long products.

During 2015-16, up to July, imports have grown 58 per cent year-on-year to 3.5 million tonne, according to data from the Ministry of Steel’s Joint Plant Committee.

Of the total imports during this period, 2.76 million tonne was non-alloy steel, up 55.5 per cent over last year. In comparison, domestic production of non-alloy steel grew at only 2.1 per cent to 27.84 million from 27.27 million in the same period last year.

Alloy steel imports in April-July 2015 grew at 69.1 per cent year-on-year to 739,000 tonne. In this category, domestic production fell 4.8 per cent to 3.29 million tonne from 3.46 million tonne.

Imports up

In July, steel imports rose 69.1 per cent year-on-year to 930,000 tonne. This included 750,000 tonne of non-alloy steel import, up 59.2 per cent year-on-year, while alloy steel imports more than doubled to 180,000 tonne. At the same time, non-alloy steel production in the country fell 2.7 per cent to 6.63 million tonne while alloy steel production fell 8 per cent to 789,000 tonne.

As on August 21, steel wire rods of 8mm diameter from China were available at $317 a tonne or around ₹20,900 a tonne freight-on-board (FOB) price.

In comparison, a similar 8mm wire rod would be available between ₹30,975 a tonne in Mumbai and ₹40,163 a tonne in Chennai. Similarly, Hot Rolled Coil from China is currently available at $302 a tonne or ₹19,900 a tonne FOB price. In India it would cost anywhere between ₹34,788 a tonne and ₹37,800 a tonne.

On Thursday, when asked if there was need for imposing a safeguard duty on steel, Tomar said the process of imposing such a duty was judicial and could be taken only after proper investigation. “The judicial process will be followed for the same,” he added.

Published on August 27, 2015

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