India’s steel trade deficit widened to over ₹11,500 crore for April - January period, up 30 per cent in a one-month-period and 15 per cent on a y-o-y basis, as imports from China continued to surge, up 80 per cent-odd on a y-o-y basis a Steel Ministry report reviewed by businessline, said.

Also read: Global steel output slips a tad in January

The country was a net importer of steel for the period under review with 6.8 mt (up 35 per cent) coming in, as against export which stood at 5.5 mt (up 3.6 per cent).

As per the report, import of total finished steel was valued at ₹56,461 crores ($6,822 million) whereas export of total finished steel was valued at ₹44,898 crores ($5,425 million) for the April to January (10M FY24) period. In comparison, trade deficit for nine-months (April – Dec) stood at ₹8,888 crore, with imports being valued at ₹48,027 crore, whereas exports stood at ₹39,139 crore.

In the year ago period (10-Months FY23), India despite being a net exporter of steel reported a trade deficit of ₹10,071 crore. Imports stood at ₹54,534 crore, whereas exports were valued at ₹44,463 crore.

China’s Growing Dominance

“Volume-wise hot rolled coil / strip at 2.9 mt (up 72 per cent y-o-y) was the most imported item, accounting for 43 per cent of the total share of finished steed,” the Ministry report said adding that China dominated shipments to India with 32 per cent market share.

The Chinese are now the highest seller of steel to India at 2.18 million tonnes and valued at $2308 million (up 30 per y-o-y), replacing traditional ones like Korea, details from a Steel Ministry report, reviewed by businessline, show.

Incidentally, Chinese imports surged across categories like hot rolled coils and strips – up 27 per cent y-o-y; cold rolled coil and strips increased 150 per cent y-o-y; galvanised plates and sheets saw a 6 per cent rise, apart from other categories like steel plates which is a recent addition to the import list.

In some categories like electrical sheets, galvanised plates and sheets and steel plates China displaced traditional markets like Japan asserting their price dominance there.

Export Growth

On the other hand, Europe continued to be a major buyer of Indian steel with Italy, Belgium and Spain being the three key markets for 10 Months FY24.

Exports to Italy stood at 1,2 mt, up 68 per cent; followed by Belgium at 0.6 mt, up 25 per cent y-o-y. Spain saw a 96 per cent increase in exports, the highest in percentage terms but volumes remained lower than its European counterparts at 0.47 mt.

Also read: Global steel output remains flat in 2023, down 5.3% in December

The UAE, another key market, saw shipments fall by 37 per cent y-o-y to 0.38 mt.

“Volume-wise hot rolled coils and strip at 2.06 mt was the most exported item, accounting for 37 per cent of the total finished steel (shipments),” the Ministry report mentioned.