‘Indian steel cos good enough to stop import surge’
Allaying apprehensions of rising steel imports, state-run SAIL on Sunday said that capacity expansion of almost all steel-makers indicate that the domestic industry is resilient and competitive enough to balance it out with proportionate exports. “China, Japan and Korea are exporting, but their exports are subject to some duties and all that. They have to bear the cost of transportation. We are much more competitive to counter the surge in imports. Today also our exports and imports are by and large equal. Imports are there and exports are there,” said SAIL Chairman C S Verma.
Taking advantage of free trade agreements, Japan and Korea have been pushing exports to India. India does not have any such trade pact with China which has also stepped up exports to India taking some local duty benefits and even circumventing duties. These have led to a 40 per cent surge in imports during the April-October period of the current fiscal compared to the same period last fiscal.
There is also certain compulsion for these countries to export more as domestic demand has reached a saturation level resulting in total imports to India during the period to 4.741 million tonnes compared to 3.198 million tonnes exports from the country in the same period.
“Even as the global steel growth remains subdued and is going to remain subdued, that is not going to impact the Indian steel industry. India is a happening place. There is growth in Indian steel production and consumption both. There are no fears,” Verma said.
Asked whether demand reaching the saturation level in markets of major steel makers is a reason for import worries for the domestic industry, he posed a counter-question: “Can you tell me why all domestic firms, be it Tata
Steel, SAIL, RINL and JSW Steel, all are galloping?” India’s steel consumption grew by just 0.5 per cent during the April-October period to 43.112 million tonnes on poor off-take from major consuming sectors such as construction and auto even as imports rose sharply.
Verma, however, exuded optimism saying that steel consumption would certainly grow by 8-9 per cent next year with the economy projected to grow by 6-7 per cent. “I am optimistic because already a number of projects have been announced and these would now be getting into the mode of commissioning. This will led into sustained demand growth for steel. Not a single domestic steel industry has curtailed capacity expansion plans. Do I need to say more?”
Last week the Government’s disinvestment drive got a tremendous start, with SAIL’s share sale being subscribed more than two times fetching the exchequer Rs 1,715 crore.