Government does not want to impose higher import duties on steel

The center is unlikely to give in to domestic steel industry demands for an increase in the basic tariff (BCD) on imports of steel or impose an additional protective tariff on the alloy in the near future, two informed officials said.

The government believes such interference could make the crucial alloy more expensive in the domestic market, one of the officials said.

While the steel ministry has been working with the trade ministry and the finance ministry on the issue, the prevailing view is that imports have not risen to alarming levels for the government to intervene, the second official said.

In fact, Jyotiraditya Scindia, the union minister for steel, recently dismissed concerns about rising imports. “If you look at the numbers, the increase (of imports) is very, very small. Our market is growing tremendously and our local producers are delivering well,” Scindia said in February.

An e-mail request for comment from the Ministry of Steel went unanswered.

The Indian Steel Association (ISA), a group that represents the interests of manufacturers such as Tata Steel and JSW Steel, has made repeated representations to the government to crack down on suspected predatory pricing by foreign steelmakers. It has sought measures such as increasing the BCD for steel from the current 7.5% for flat steel products to 12.5% ​​and for long products from the current 7.5% to 10%.

The industry association has also called for a 25% protective tariff on steel imports from countries that have a free trade agreement with India, bypassing the BCD. Such countries account for more than 60% of steel imports into India.

Steelmakers have said foreign producers are selling excess production in India at lower prices than their domestic markets, while demand for the alloy has slumped in most major consuming countries.

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