New Delhi: The country's steel imports dipped by about 18 per cent in the 2008-09 fiscal amid slackening demand, a development that may weaken the industry's case for more tax barriers on cheap arrivals of the commodity.
The finished steel imports declined to 5.7 million tonnes during the fiscal ended March 31 as compared to seven million tonnes in the year-ago period, as per provisional data of the steel ministry.
Not only did the imports decline, but exports too took a beating and fell by 26.l per cent to 3.7 million tonnes from the previous year's five million tonnes.
Even as the government levied an import duty of five per cent on certain steel products last year, leading producers such as Essar, JSW and Ispat have filed petition for the levy of anti-dumping duty on items originating from China, Ukraine and a few other countries.
“In volume terms, the steel quantity shipped to India may have declined in the fiscal, but what is damaging the domestic industry is the low price at which steel is being imported,” a senior industry official said while advocating for more tax curbs on imports.
Hot-rolled coil, a vital steel item used by industries, is being shipped for as low as $400 a tonne as against the peak of over $1,100 a tonne in June last year, he added.