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05 Mar 2018
American trade hurdles may cause a steel glut in India, rattle producers
Credit : TSO Bureau

"US President Donald Trump’s proposed policy on steel, of which his country is the planet’s biggest importer, may cause a supply glut in India, with shipments originally bound for Washington likely to end up at seaports of the world’s fastest-expanding major economy if they can’t hurdle across the American tariff walls. To ensure that the current cycle of recovery at the country’s largest makers of the alloy is unaffected, New Delhi may need to relook at the anti-dumping charges. The minimum import prices for steel products introduced last year are way below the current market rates, and may prove ineffective in margin protection for local producers. Domestic steel prices are about 5% lower. India is a net exporter of steel, with net outbound shipments of around 3 MT. It was a net importer two years ago before the government introduced the protective measures. Without any government support, that status is under threat. The minimum prices introduced last year will not help as the cost and demand supply scenario has changed. For instance, reference minimum import price for HR Coil is $489 per ton but domestic as well as foreign players are selling in the range of $630-$700 per ton. The margin that the price of $489 offered last year is not the same at present due to the rise in raw material prices. Coking coal prices, for instance, have more than doubled, and iron ore prices have increased by about 80%. The US secretary of commerce has recommended a global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports and at least 53% on imports from 12 countries — Brazil, China, India, Russia, Korea, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Egypt and Turkey. With 35 MT (million tons), US is the biggest steel importer. To be sure, US accounts for only 2% of the total exports from India. But experts are concerned that supplies earlier bound to the US may be dumped in expanding markets such as India, especially from suppliers such as Korea, Russia and Japan. This may also impact the improving demand-supply scenario. The domestic steel industry has grown at 4.5% in the first nine months of FY18 as compared to a mere 3% in FY17. Thanks to this and buoyant export markets to date, domestic steel prices have been on an uptrend since December 2017. JSW Steel, which derives about a fifth of its sales from exports, may be affected. Tata Steel’s European operations will also be under pressure. Other steel companies such as SAIL, Tata Steel India and Jindal Steel and Power may not be affected as the majority of their sales are in the Indian markets. "
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