Millennium Post

Steel minister rules out industry’s demand on FTA

Disapproving the demand for removal of steel from free trade pacts with Japan and South Korea, steel minister Beni Prasad Verma advised the industry to become more competitive by reducing cost of production.

'I don't know what the industry is clamouring for. They have to understand that when import duty would be near zero by 2025, they have to compete. You have to lower operation cost, raise competency level and deploy latest technology. Only then, your cost of production will come down,' Verma said.

In view of growing imports of steel from Japan and Korea, leading private sector producers JSW Steel and Essar Steel had earlier this month demanded taking steel out of the purview of free trade pact with the two Asian economic superpowers.

India had signed FTA with South Korea in January 2010 and with Japan in August last year. Under FTA, duties on most of the products, traded between the countries, are either eliminated or reduced sharply.

Verma said since India is a signatory to the WTO, it has to reduce import duty to near zero by 2025. It would be better if the domestic industry gears up from now on to achieve the competitiveness.

'There is still a 3.5 per cent duty on steel imports. So, the industries in India must gear up to competition because, today or tomorrow you will enter into that near zero phase,' he said.
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