Stainless steel firms urge govt to hike import duty to 12.5%

Cheap imports and dumping from China continues to plague the domestic steel industry.

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Reeling under an onslaught of cheap imports, domestic stainless steel industry has urged the government to raise the import duty on such products to 12.5%.

Stainless steel flat product imports hit a record 5.32 lakh tonne (LT) in 2015-16, which is 25% of the total domestic demand of about 24 LT.

Since 2011-12 (3.07 LT) inbound shipments have grown by 50%, industry body India Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) said.

India produces about 30 LT of stainless steel, which is mainly used in kitchen-related products followed by process industry, engineering, automobiles, railways and buildings.

"Like steel, stainless sector is also facing a spate of cheap imports that now accounts for one-fourth of the domestic consumption. We are requesting the government to protect the industry," ISSDA President N C Mathur told PTI.

Industry is demanding that government raise the basic customs duty (BCD) on finished stainless steel flat products from 7.5% at present to 12.5%, which is on par with that on carbon steel.

Also, as several raw materials used in making stainless steel are imported, it is urging the government to bring the import duty on such products to zero, Mathur added.

"We were excluded from the minimum import price (MIP) as well as from the carbon steel customs duties, when they were raised twice last year.

But, now the situation for us is very bad and already industry is in crisis," he said.
ISSDA is also demanding imposition of a provisional countervailing duty of hot rolled and cold rolled flat stainless steel products from China.

"Of the 5.32 LT imports in the last fiscal, 50% alone came from China. Imports from China have grown over two-fold to 2.77 LT in 2015-16 from 1.13 LT in 2013-14," Mathur said.

ISSDA said that stainless steel producers have invested around Rs 35,000 crore towards modernisation and capacity expansion since 2000, which will be of no use if government does not support the industry at this juncture.

"We are asking for short-term support for 1-2 years as the industry has to meet interest payment and debt obligations that in such an environment will not be possible. These cannot wait for the budget as from the data you can see how grave the situation is," Mathur rued. 

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