Mumbai: Indian steel makers said on Tuesday they will keep pressing for a safeguard duty on imports after the government had rejected a claim for a 25% levy but said some protection was merited.
A government panel recently rejected the industry’s request for a 25% duty as “unjustified”, Steel secretary PK Rastogi told a conference on Tuesday.
“To some extent there is (a need for duty), but not what was exactly recommended earlier,” he said without elaborating.
There is already a 5% import duty on most steel items.
India is the world’s fifth-largest steel producer. Output rose 0.6% to 56.39 million tonnes of steel in the year ending March, government data showed.
An official from JSW Steel Ltd said the industry would renew their demand for a safeguard duty.
“We will give additional data to the government,” said Seshagiri Rao, joint managing director & group CFO of JSW.
“The kind of bookings that are happening, taking that into account, there is a strong case for a safeguard duty.”
Rao said about 500,000 tonnes of steel imports were being booked a month at around $420-$450 a tonne, about $20-$30 a tonne cheaper than locally produced steel.
Shoeb Ahmed, a director at state-run Steel Authority of India, said big imports were not needed.
“Being amongst the lowest-cost producers of steel in the world, with vast reserves of iron ore and relatively cheaper labour, there is no reason why India should import steel during short periods when supply-demand adjustments are in progress.”
SAIL, the largest domestic steel producer, aims to make 12 million tonnes of the metal in the fiscal year to March 2010.
India’s steel imports fell 17.8% in 2008/09 (April/March) to 5.78 million tonnes. Exports fell more sharply, dropping by 26% to 3.75 million tonnes.
“Exports are down more sharply than imports and that makes India a very attractive place for dumping steel,” said JSW’s Rao.
Steel demand is seen rising by 5% locally in the current fiscal year, Rastogi told reporters.