Steel processing industry says import safeguards one-sided

KOLKATA: Downstream steel processing industry body Federation of Industries in India has alleged that protection provided by the government to domestic steel producers is “one-sided.”
“The protection provided by the government to the domestic steel producers is one-sided. The steel consuming Industry sector has neither been consulted nor heard by the steel ministry before taking important decisions like imposing of MIP, Safeguard Duty, increasing customs duty and also while placing the steel imports under BIS Certification scheme,” the Federation of Industries in India (FII) said in a letter to the steel ministry.

For protection of primary producers, the government has increased steel import duty from 5 per cent to 12.5 per cent, imposed 20 per cent Safeguard Duty and extended it till 2018, fixed a Minimum Import Price (MIP) for steel ranging from $341 to $752 per tonne and also brought imported steel under Mandatory BIS Certification Scheme, the FII said.

The industry body, representing 400 members that employ around 30 lakh people mostly belonging to SME units, said these measures have benefitted only a few large producers like SAIL, JSW and Tata Steel.

In another letter to Commerce and Industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman, FII General Secretary H L Bhardwaj said, “The domestic downstream steel processing Industrial units in the country are facing massive road blocks due to some of recent measures taken by the government to provide protection to 3-4, domestic steel giants including SAIL, JSW, Tata Steel by virtually banning import of steel.”

Steel prices are being raised by the producers by Rs 1,200 to 1,500 per tonne every month ever since the MIP was imposed in February 2016, the letter said.

Representations made by small industry bodies like FII are not properly attended to, Bhardwaj said in the letter.