India became a net importer of steel in July—for the first time since January 2021—following a slump in exports during the month. Around 444,000 tonnes of finished steel was imported, an 8 per cent increase y-o-y, data compiled by the Steel Ministry and accessed by BusinessLine shows.

The import of total finished steel was valued at ₹19,068 crore ($2,449 million), sources say. However, if sales for the first four months of April–July are considered, then India continues to remain a net exporter of steel. Imports during this period rose by over three per cent to 1.61 million tonnes (mt).

Some quantities booked at cheaper prices from countries like Russia are also expected to come in during the next few months, thereby increasing import numbers. Ministry data shows, volume wise, non-alloy hot rolled coil/dtrip was the most imported item (35 per cent of non-alloyed items) between April and July, and 0.307 mt was brought in, up 23 per cent y-o-y.

Exports hit

July exports stood at 156,000 tonnes, which is also the lowest since June 2019. Finished steel comprises alloyed and non-alloyed steel.

Trade sources say a levy of 15 per cent export duty on steel products—that was introduced May 22 onwards—has hit export orders. Moreover, weakening global demand because of recessionary pressures have impacted numbers. With the levy of duty, Indian steel continues to be costlier than Chinese offerings in the export market.

“Export duty led to a fall in shipments from India. We hope this is an abberation and numbers will change in the coming months,” the source said.

Category-wise Imports

Among imported items, for July, hot rolled coil and strip imports were 99,000 tonnes, up 111 per cent y-o-y; followed by GP/GC sheets and coils, where 75,400 tonnes were imported, up 10 per cent y-o-y. Electrical sheet imports fell by over 50 per cent, y-o-y, while hot rolled coil imports fell 95 per cent.

Overall, non-flat product imports fell 49 per cent, y-o-y while flat product imports dropped over 4 per cent, y-o-y. However, stainless steel and alloy imports rose 46 per cent, y-o-y, to 209,000 tonnes.

Imports from Korea

Volume-wise, Korea (0.713 mt) was the largest import market in the April to July period, with supplies up 8 per y-o-y. This was followed by China (0.35 mt, up 23 per cent) and Indonesia (0.11 mt, up 130 per cent). Imports from Japan and Taiwan fell 30 and 25 per cent respectively.

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