Driven by the domestic availability of raw materials such as iron ore and cheap labour, the Indian steel industry has been witnessing dynamic growth in recent times. It is increasingly gaining its place in the global steel market.
Import and Export
According to the report of International Trade Administration, India is the world’s ninth-largest steel exporter and fifteenth-largest steel importer. India started exporting steel way back in 1964, but exports were not regulated and depended on domestic surpluses. Following economic liberalisation, export of steel witnessed a quantum jump. Subsequently, the rapid growth of domestic steel demand has led to a decline in the rate of growth of steel exports from India to ensure that domestic requirements are adequately met. India has turned into a net exporter of total finished steel in recent times.
l In 2017-18, the country’s finished steel exports increased 17% year-on-year to 9.62 million tonnes (MT), as compared to 8.24 MT in 2016-17.
l During the same period, the country’s finished steel imports rose 3.5% on year-on-year basis to reach 7.48 MT, as compared to 7.23 MT in 2016-17.
l Exports and imports of finished steel stood at 4.33 MT and 5.41 MT during Apr-Nov 2018 (P).
The top five source countries for India’s steel imports represented about 79% of the total steel import volume in 2017 at seven million metric tonnes (mmt). South Korea accounted for the largest share of India’s imports at about 30% (2.6 mmt), followed by China at about 28% (2.5 mmt), Japan at about 15% (1.3 mmt), Indonesia at 3.1% (0.3 mmt), and Taiwan at 3% (0.3 mmt). The United States ranked 12th as a source for India’s steel imports. India imported about 110 thousand metric tonnes from the United States in 2017.
Exports to India’s top 10 steel markets represented 62% of India’s steel export volume in 2018 at around 3.4 million metric tonnes. Nepal was the largest market for India’s exports with 19% (1 mmt), followed by Italy at 10% (0.5 mmt), Belgium at 7% (0.4 mmt), the United Arab Emirates at 6% (0.3 mmt), and Spain at 5% (0.3 mmt). The United States ranked sixth as a destination for India’s steel exports, accounting for 4% of exports (204 thousand metric tonnes) in YTD 2018.
The export promotion (duty exemption schemes) of iron and steel products allows exporters to import necessary raw material and other inputs in required quantities (duty free) for production of the export product. Quantities of import are allowed as per standard input output norms (SION) prescribed by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) or as per self-declared norms by the exporters subject to ratification of the DGFT. The Ministry of Steel (Technical Wing) helps the Advance Authorisation Committee/Norms Committee in DGFT/ in ratification of the self-declaration norms or otherwise. It also helps DGFT to fix new norms (Standard Input-Output Norms) and/or to review existing norms in consultation with industry/ experts/ consultants.
The internationally affiliated mechanisms like anti-dumping duties (AD), countervailing duties (CVD), associated suspension agreements, and safeguards are often collectively suggested as trade remedies to address the market-distorting effects of unfair trade, or serious injury or threat of serious injury caused by a surge in imports.
Unlike anti-dumping and countervailing measures, safeguards do not require a finding of an “unfair” practice. Before applying these duties or measures, countries investigate allegations and provide relief for the injury caused to a domestic industry.
Policies need to curb export of raw materials and import of steel
l The government hiked the export duty on iron ore to 30% all varieties of iron ore (except pellets)
l The government has reduced the basic custom duty on the plants and equipment required for initial set up or expansion of iron ore pellets plants and iron ore beneficiation plants from 7.5/5% to 2.5%
l Customs duty on imported flat-rolled stainless steel products has been increased to 10% from 7.5%
l Basic customs duty on steel grade dolomite and steel grade limestone is being reduced from 5% to 2.5%. Basic customs duty is being reduced from 10% to 5% on forged steel rings used in the manufacture of bearings of wind-operated electricity generators
l 100% FDI through the automatic route is allowed in the Indian steel sector
Chaudhary Birender Singh, Union Steel Minister, GoI has shared his views to BE.
India has already surpassed Japan in the first 11 months of 2018, to become the second largest crude steel producer in the world. We are likely to leave behind the US in terms of steel consumption in 2019. With 8.4% growth in steel consumption and 4.5% growth in steel production in the first nine months of 2018-19, the Indian steel industry is vibrant and robust today. But that was not the case a few years back. The sector was down and depressed. A whole set of problems like dumping, low quality coal, poor demand, raw material shortage, import dependency were slowing down the steel industry.
Our government took a series of initiatives which led to the sector to look up and get on its feet. The Indian steel sector is now undoubtedly one of the most promising sectors in India. In this journey of turnaround, 2017 was the ‘Year of Policy Boost’ for the steel industry. Two policies were approved by the Cabinet and were rolled out that year. National Steel Policy 2017 envisages a steel production capacity of 300 million tonnes and per capita steel consumption of 160 kg by 2030. We are moving steadily in that direction, and are on course to attain these levels by that time. The DMISP Policy for preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products has already resulted in bringing down foreign exchange outflow to the tune of Rs. 8000 crore.
Moreover, Indian steel companies are getting an opportunity to prove their capability and potential and are becoming more competitive. 2018 was the ‘Year of Consolidation’ for the steel industry. The steel industry structure has undergone an overhaul with NPA resolution developments under IBC (Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code). Maiden Secondary Steel Awards were presented last year. After policy reforms and consolidation, we have decided to make 2019 the ‘Year of Expansion’.