Govt looking into import duty, FTA issues: Steel minister


New Delhi: Expressing concern over problems being faced by domestic steelmakers due to large-scale dumping from abroad, union minister of steel and mines Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday said the government is looking into the issues related to import duties and free trade agreements (FTAs). The minister also said the government is seized of the issues impacting the steel sector and will take a decision in appropriate time, including on import duties. The industry has been demanding further hike in import duty on steel products.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in consultation with the ministries of finance and commerce and the Prime Minister to decide and reconsider on these FTAs and further increase in anti dumping duties very soon to safeguard the suffering rubber and steel industry domestically,” a CII statement quoted Tomar as saying. Indian steel industry has been hit hard due to cheap imports of the metal from China as well as from South Korea, which has a FTA with India that the industry says is leading to the country exporting cheaper products to India.

While addressing at an event organised by CII, Tomar assured the rubber industry that the government is seized of the matter and is concerned about the situation. “We are concerned about the situation your industry is facing related to power and dumping by China. We are working on it to sort this out. The government is looking at the issue of FTAs and their impact on the industry,” he added.

India, the world’s third largest steel producer, saw a surge in stainless steel imports by 49% to 5.5 lakh tonnes (LT) in 2014-15 against 3.7 LT in 2013-14. In value terms, imports of the metal rose by 23% to Rs.5,918.9 crore in 2014-15, as againstRs.4,801.9 crore in 2013-14. Earlier this month, revenue secretary Shaktikanta Das had said that a decision regarding imposition of safeguard duty on import of steel will not be delayed if the Directorate General of Safeguards recommends restrictive duty.

According to experts, free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea have already resulted in cheaper imports of steel and has impacted the domestic production.

Under FTA, duties on most of the products traded between the countries are either eliminated or reduced sharply. The industry has already demanded that steel products should be excluded from the FTAs with Japan and Korea as these countries are flooding the Indian market, taking advantage of concessional duty rates at the cost of domestic firms.

In a much needed relief for domestic producers, in June the government increased the basic customs duty (BCD) on certain long and flat steel products by 2.5%. Import duty on flat steel products have been increased to 10% from 7.5%, whereas that on long steel products have been raised to 7.5% from 5%. In the same month, India had slapped an anti-dumping duty of up to $ 316 per tonne on imports of certain steel products from three countries, including China, to protect domestic producers from below-cost inbound shipments. A duty of $ 309 per tonne has been imposed on imports from China, while $ 316 per tonne duty has been fixed for Malaysia and USD 180 per tonne for Korea.


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