A day after the commerce ministry recommended imposing a safeguard duty of 25 per cent on imports of solar cells and modules from China for one year, the government on Tuesday said it is looking at imposing “safeguards” on steel imports if the volumes coming into the country increase beyond a certain level.
The proposed duty on solar cells from China, which would apply for two years in total, would be reduced in the second year to 20 per cent for six months and then to 15 per cent for the next six months.
The Directorate General of Trade Remedies said in the report that there is a serious threat to the domestic solar manufacturing industry from Chinese imports and recommended countervailing measures. The recommendation would now be submitted to the government for approval.
In the case of steel, imports have surged in the first two months of the current financial year. India, which was a net exporter of steel until March 2018, saw a rise in imports since the beginning of fiscal year 2018-19, making it a net importer for the first two months of the fiscal year, official data show.
As the steel trade war heats up, China is trying to push its massive surplus steel to other markets like India, which has resulted in massive exports in the middle of the decade.
In 2015 China exported 112 million tonnes of steel products — more than the United States, Canada and Mexico’s combined production that year.
The export pace has slowed since then because of capacity closures and stronger internal demand in China. But with Chinese steel production hitting fresh highs with each passing month and exports rising again, the Indian steel industry is worried.
China produced 80.2 million tonnes of crude steel in June, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). That, according to the Chinese steel ministry, was equivalent to 976 million tonnes on an annualised basis.
China has closed about 150 million tonnes of steel production capacity over the past couple of years, most of which was illegal and unaccounted for in official data.