Steel imports steel industry india
Steel imports steel industry indiaReuters file

Steel imports into India rose 18 percent in March after four straight months of decline. The spike could be the result of contracts entered into in January and February this year, Reuters reported. 

The imports stood at 9,94,000 tonnes during March, up 18.2 percent over the corresponding period last year.

"Some steel could have been booked in January and February. This is probably what has arrived in March," the agency quoted Goutam Chakraborty, an analyst at Emkay Global Financial Services, as saying.

"Imports are likely to decline again in April and May," he added.

In financial year 2014-15, steel imports rose 20.2 percent on a year-on-year basis and 9.1 percent compared to the imports in February, while consumption went up 4.3 percent during the financial year, Reuters said, quoting data from Joint Plant Committee of the steel ministry. 

India exported 32.4 percent less steel during financial year 2015-16.

The decline in steel imports during the four-month period was due to the imposition of 20 percent safeguard import duty for 200 days on some steel products in September 2015 and a floor price on imports introduced in February this year to deter countries such as China, Reuters had earlier reported.

The safeguard duty was extended until March 2018.

The imposition of a safeguard duty and a minimum import price was the outcome of lobbying by Indian steel companies such as JSW Steel, Tata Steel and Kalyani Steels, whose profit margins have been hit due to cheap imports from China, as well as Russia, Japan and South Korea, according to the Reuters report. 

Steel imports have consistently declined over the years as a result of tariff-based government intervention. 

"While imports grew by about 75% in the financial year 2014-15, compared to the financial year 2013-14, the import growth has slowed to about 24% in the period April'15 – Jan'16, compared to the same period in the last financial year," Minister of Steel and Mines Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said in a statement Feb. 24, 2016.

He explained the high level of imports in 2014-15 to various factors. 

"The jump in imports was largely on account of global steel glut. Due to this reason, steel was being exported by China and other countries, often at below cost of production. Further, a small quantity of high quality steel, not manufactured locally, is also imported."

India is the third largest producer of steel in the world.

Also read: Indian steel companies likely to hike prices for second straight month, says analyst