Japan moves WTO to settle steel dispute with India: report

09 Mar 2017


Japan is reported to have asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to set up a dispute settlement panel to examine India's safeguard duties on steel imports, which it says could be in violation of WTO rules.

India has imposed safeguard duties on some steel products from China, Japan and South Korea in a bid retain protect domestic producers from cheap imports.

Japan, the world's second-biggest steel producer after China, has been hit hard by a slump in global demand for steel and wants to safeguard the interests of its own steel industry which sells nearly half of its products overseas, says a report by news agency Reuters.

Japan had in December asked for WTO dispute consultations with India over steel safeguard duties and a minimum import price for iron and steel products.

India imposed duties of up to 20 per cent on some hot-rolled flat steel products in September 2015, and set a floor price in February 2016 for steel product imports to deter countries such as China, Japan and South Korea from undercutting local mills.

India ended the minimum import price last month, but kept safeguard duties even after the two sides held talks in early February.

Tokyo claims India's safeguard duties are inconsistent with WTO rules and contributed to the plunge in its hot-rolled coil exports to India, which dropped to 8th-largest on Japan's buyer list in 2016, down from 3rd-largest in 2015.

India has also extended anti-dumping duty on some steel products from China by five years, in a bid to retain protectionist barriers and stem the tide of cheap foreign products.

The long-term measure, on the import of seamless tubes, pipes and hollow profiles of iron, alloy or non-alloy steel, stands effective as of 17 May last year when the government had imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty, according to the circular.

The duty imposts helped reduce India's steel imports by 37.8 percent between April and January.

Indian steelmakers such as JSW Steel, Tata Steel and Steel Authority of India have lobbied for more measures to protect them from cheaper imports.

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