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For first time in 3 years, India imported more steel that it exported in FY18-19

PW Bureau

India’s exports declined after China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia ramped up exports to the Middle East and Africa after being blocked from the US and Europe

New Delhi: For the first time in three years, India emerged as a net importer of steel in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, which means that it imported more steel than it exported. This can be attributed to a loss in market share among its traditional steel buyers and a jump in imports because of the demand for higher-quality steel within the country. In the fiscal year 2018-19, India’s exports fell by a whopping 34 percent to 6.36 million tonnes, according to a report by news agency Reuters.

Over the same period, finished steel imports grew 4.7 percent to 7.84 million tonnes.

What caused the decline in exports?

India’s exports declined after China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia ramped up exports to the Middle East and Africa after being blocked from markets in the United States and Europe because of their protectionist policies, a government official was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Imports from these Asian countries also went up within India as they diverted their supplies to the country’s domestic market. Value-added steel was the biggest source of imports as it is primarily used for the auto sector and high-end electrical steel. “The imports for producing value-added steel for the auto sector is mainly by foreign steelmakers like POSCO,” the source said.

Ministry urged local automakers to cut imports

The Ministry of Steel had asked automakers in the domestic market to cut down the usage of value-added steel imported from Japan and South Korea to support domestic producers. The automakers, however, said that they cannot get the quality of steel that they require locally.

Indian steel companies have sought a higher duty on imports.