New Delhi: Steel majors like SAIL, Tata, JSW and Essar may push for a higher import tariff on steel at a meeting convened by the government on Tuesday, even as the dip in foreign arrivals has weakened the case for duty hike.
Seeking protection against cheap dumping of steel items from countries like China and Ukraine, the domestic producers want the import duty to be increased to 15% from the present 5%.
However, with steel imports declining by 14% to 4.8 million tonnes during April-December period of the current fiscal, the government may not immediately decide on hiking the duty, an official source said.
To discuss threadbare the repercussions of a higher import duty and the impact of fiscal measures taken by the government for the sector, the Steel Ministry has called a meeting of the major domestic producers, including SAIL, Tata Steel, Essar Steel, JSW Steel and Ispat Industries tomorrow.
The secondary steel manufacturers like Uttam Galva, Bhushan Steel and representatives from industry’s associations have also been invited for the deliberation that would be chaired by Steel Secretary P K Rastogi, official sources said.
“The meeting would review demand-supply scenario in the domestic sector and the steps needed to protect the industry against falling demand and crashing prices,” a senior Steel Ministry official said.
Besides seeking an increase in import tariff, the steel producers also want the government to continue curbing overseas shipments of the commodity by keeping it in the list of restricted items for imports.
Endorsing the industry’s concern over dumping of steel items in the country, the government had in November brought hot-rolled coils, a vital steel product, under the restricted list of items and slapped a 5 per cent import duty on specified iron and steel products.
Among the other measures taken by the government to cushion the steel sector against falling demand and prices, included restoration of duty entitlement passbook scheme to incentivise exports and withdrawal of 15% export duty on long steel products used by the construction industry.
Accepting the industry’s demand for a level playing field against cheap imports of TMT bars, government has also levied a 10 per cent countervailing duty on the product, used widely in real estate and construction industry.