Steel being a deregulated sector, the role of Government is limited to that of a facilitator for the growth of steel industry in the country. Production, import, export etc. of various steel items are, therefore, solely depend on the decision of individual steel manufacturer and the Government has not imposed any quantitative restrictions on them.
As per available information, presently there is surplus in global steel market. Due to the excess capacity in many of the leading steel producing countries like China, Japan, Russia, Korea etc. these countries export steel products into growing markets like India, even at below cost of production, resulting in the prices of imported items being much lower than their domestic prices.
In order to protect domestic steel sector against cheap steel imports, the Government has taken the following steps:-
(i) To ensure that only quality steel is produced or imported, Government has notified Steel & Steel Products (Quality Control) Orders
(ii) To increase availability of Coal and Iron ore for the domestic steel industry:-
Government has also notified the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Amendment Act, 2015 to streamline coal block allocations. Apart from this the Government has notified the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 streamline grant of Mining Leases.
Further to the notification the Government has raised peak rate of basic customs duty on both flat and non-flat steel to 15% from 10%.
Other measures taking by the Government to protect Steel Industry are:
(i) Hiked import duty on ingots & billets, alloy steel (flat & long), stainless steel (long) and non-alloy long products from 5 % to 7.5% and non-alloy and other alloy flat products from 7.5% to 10%. This was further revised in August, 2015 on flat steel from 10% to 12.5%, long steel from 7.5% to 10% and semi-finished steel from 7.5% to 10%.
(ii) In November, 2014, instructions were issued to ensure import of rebars strictly as per Steel Product Quality Control Order 2012, to block influx of cheap imports of boron added rebars.
(iii) In June, 2015, an Anti-Dumping Duty levied for five years on imports of certain variety of hot-rolled flat products of stainless steel from China ($ 309 per tonne), Korea ($ 180 per tonne) and Malaysia ($ 316 per tonne).
(iv) Imposed, in September, 2015, a provisional Safeguard Duty of 20% on hot-rolled flat products of non-alloy and other alloy steel, in coils of a width of 600 mm or more, for a period of 200 days.
(v) Imposed, vide its notification the Minimum Import Price (MIP) condition on 173 steel products. Imports of items covered under this notification will not be allowed into the country below the notified price.
India initiated anti-dumping probes to check if its domestic steel industry has been hurt because of a surge in below-cost imports. The decisions of the Government have been welcomed by most steel associations including Indian Stainless Steel Development Association. The body feels that had the Government not taken these steps the steel industry would have become a sick industry due to excessive imports.
It should be noted here that India is not the only country that is facing this situation. All the major developing nations too have faced the issue of cheap imports of steel. The US has faced this situation in the past.
Seven European Union nations have asked the European Commission to intervene to stop cheap imports of steel, particularly from China and Russia.