Push Comes to Shove in Steel as India Vows More Import Curbs

  • Government may include more products covered by safeguard duty
  • Shares in Indian producers rally after Sundararajan's remarks

India will step up curbs on steel imports before the end of the year to combat a rising tide of cheap shipments and aid local producers, according to Steel Secretary Aruna Sundararajan. Shares of Tata Steel Ltd. and JSW Steel Ltd. rallied.

The basket of products that face a 20 percent safeguard tax may be widened beyond hot-rolled coil, Sundararajan said by phone from New Delhi on Wednesday. The curbs, which could include additional measures, may be announced in about two weeks, she told television channel CNBC TV18 earlier.

India is among countries facing a surge in steel shipments from China, the world’s top producer, where slowing local consumption has spurred mills to ship unprecedented volumes. India’s plan for additional barriers adds to signs that importers are pushing back with greater vigor against the tide, potentially capping China’s exports into 2016.

“In the coming few weeks, India will have tough measures in place to provide a level playing field for domestic producers,” Sundararajan said. “We are increasingly looking at anti-dumping duties. We have observed that there are wide differences in the subsidies given to some overseas products and the prices at which they are sold in India.”

India’s imports may jump to 14 million tons to 15 million tons in the year ending March 31, she said. Inbound shipments were 10 million tons in 2014-15, ministry data shows.

Shares Jump

Tata Steel rose 2.7 percent to 243.85 rupees in Mumbai, the highest level at close since Oct. 30, while JSW Steel gained 4 percent to 981.25 rupees, the highest since Sept. 14. Steel Authority of India Ltd. advanced 1.8 percent to 47.55 rupees. 

In September, India imposed a 20 percent safeguard duty for 200 days on hot-rolled coil imports, after levying an anti-dumping tax and raising the import duties in the previous two months. India’s imports jumped 42 percent to 6.68 million tons in the seven months through October, according to initial data from the steel ministry.

Steel producers globally have been protesting against the rising tide of cheaper supplies from China and have sought protectionist measures from their governments. Exports from China will probably peak in 2015 as the doubling of shipments over the past two years spurred a wave of protectionism around the world, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Net exports from the top producer will plateau at about 90 million tons a year, with gross shipments seen at about 105 million tons, it said in October.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the spelling of secretary’s name.)

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