Russia has alleged that its exports of steel items to India have fallen by a third following imposition of import restrictions by the country and has proposed that the measures be removed immediately.

In a submission to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body, Moscow said it wants to participate in the dispute consultations requested by Japan with India on the matter, a government official told BusinessLine .

“The number of countries that want to participate in the consultations has now increased to three with Ukraine and Taiwan also showing interest. India needs to present a good case defending the move and convincing members that the measures were being gradually diluted,” the official said. Japan dragged India to the WTO in December over ‘certain measures on imports of iron and steel products’ on the grounds that they were not compliant with multilateral norms. It requested consultations with India which is the first step in the process of filing a dispute.

The ‘measures’ referred to by Japan include safeguard duties (levy imposed to stop a surge in imports that are hurting domestic producers) on hot-rolled flat products of non-alloy and other alloy steel in coils and minimum import price (MIP) on some iron and steel items.

Russia complained that its exports of the relevant items to India took a direct hit following the imposition of the import restrictions. “In 2015, the amount of relevant Russian exports exceeded $181 million. Following India’s application of the measures at issue, Russian exports of the relevant product to India decreased by almost 38 per cent in 2016 and amounted to $113 million,” the submission pointed out.

Ukraine peeved

Ukraine, which has been complaining about “India's practice of imposing safeguard measures based on the use of forecast market trends rather than an actual increase in imports”, also expressed its interest in the consultations stating that it has been historically a reliable and regular supplier of the products at issue to Indian consumers.

“India hopes to convince all participants that the measures would not be affecting them much in the days to come as the country has already started withdrawing it step-by-step,” the official said.

The number of items on which MIP has been introduced has already been reduced to 19 and may go down further next month. The safeguard duties are also being tapered off and would be totally removed in March 2018.

The Japanese government has estimated that the tariffs could cost Japanese steel companies about $220 million through March 2018, as per reports in the Japanese media.