India turns net exporter of steel after four years

29 Mar 2017


India has emerged a net exporter of steel for the first time in four years thanks to the government's impost of countervailing duties that helped restrict imports of cheap steel products from countries like China, Korea and Japan.

Domestic mills battling a flood of cheap imports reversed the trend for the first time in four years, according to the Indian Steel Association.

On the other hand, steel exports from India increased 77 per cent to 6.62 million tonnes over the past nine months while imports fell by 65 per cent to 6.59 million tonnes.

Steel production in India is forecast to top 100 million tonnes in the fiscal year starting 1 April as the big producers commission more capacity and look to boost exports.

Capacity utilisation of steel manufacturers is set to increase with strong export demand and signs of a revival in domestic sales.

Lured by a rebound in global product prices, mills including JSW Steel Ltd. and Steel Authority of India Ltd. are relying on the export market to soak up excess inventories after boosting output in anticipation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's infrastructure push.

Steel companies such as Essar Steel and JSW Steel have already reported a sharp rise in steel production in the last two months. JSW Steel's flat steel production increased by 31 per cent to 1.93 million tonnes (1.47 mt) in the last two months, while Essar Steel has also reported an increase in output.

India's steel exports have surged almost 78 per cent in the 11 months to February to 6.6 million tonnes, while imports have plunged 39 per cent to the same figure, according to steel ministry data. Output jumped 11 per cent to 92 million tonnes amid consumption growth of 3.4 per cent to 76.2 million tonnes, it said.

On Tuesday, Sail shares rose 5.91 percent to Rs63.60 at 4:21pm in Mumbai, while JSW Steel climbed 5.02% to Rs192.30 and Tata Steel advanced 4.30 per cent to Rs499.15.

Top producer Sail aims to double exports next fiscal year, as per its disclosure on 1 March. It exported 682,000 tonnes in the April-February period, with shipments last month climbing to the best in a decade.

Exports from JSW Steel, the second-biggest mill, have been as much as 26 per cent of sales in the July-December period, according to the Mumbai-based producer.

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