India Steel Imports Jump to Record as China Floods Global Market

  • Steel shipments rise 20 percent in year through March
  • India imposes trade barriers to curtail offshore purchases

India’s steel imports rose to a record last year as buyers took advantage of lower prices after an economic slowdown in China prompted the world’s biggest producer to flood global markets with cheap products.

Shipments into India advanced 20 percent to 11.2 million metric tons in the financial year through March, according to provisional data from the Steel Ministry. Purchases climbed 18 percent to 994,000 tons last month, it said.

Exports from China, which accounts for about half of global output, surged to an all-time high last year, causing a glut which weighed on prices. India has been tightening curbs on imports by imposing safeguard taxes until 2018, raising duties and levying a minimum import price on some products.

Imports are forecast to decline to about 6 million tons in the year that started April 1 because of the government’s protectionist measures, Seshagiri Rao, joint managing director at JSW Steel Ltd., said in February. Global steelmakers may see some relief as Chinese exports will probably drop after prices surged, boosting the attractiveness of local sales against shipments from abroad, according to Noble Group Ltd.

India’s steel ministry is also studying the feasibility of a bailout package to help indebted local producers. Shares of Tata Steel Ltd. fell 2.5 percent to 312.30 rupees in Mumbai on Tuesday while JSW Steel Ltd. closed little changed at 1,259.45 rupees. Steel Authority of India Ltd. declined 2.9 percent to 42.45 rupees.

Steel output rose 1.4 percent to 7.8 million tons in March from a year earlier, while consumption climbed 1.4 percent to 7.3 million tons, according to the ministry. For the financial year, production fell 1.1 percent to 91 million tons while demand rose 4.3 percent to 80.3 million tons.

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