Steel ministry to seek extension of floor price on imports

A worker stacks steel pipes in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad November 4, 2014. India's steel consumption is expected to grow at its fastest pace in five years next year on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's infrastructure push, but a scarcity of raw materials means it will be at the expense of another key goal - curbing imports. Picture taken November 4, 2014. To match INDIA-STEEL/CHINA REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS COMMODITIES)

India’s steel ministry will seek to extend a floor price on steel imports beyond August, a senior steel ministry source said, as the country looks to keep up its protectionist barriers to stem the tide of cheap foreign products.

New Delhi imposed the minimum import price (MIP) on 173 steel products in February, helping cut inbound shipments last month to their lowest level in at least 14 months. The MIP expires in August.

The steel ministry will call for the extension of MIP for as long products are being dumped in India, the official, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to media, told Reuters.

India is the world’s third-largest steel producer with a total installed capacity of 110 million tonnes. But the industry says its margins have been squeezed due to cheap imports from China, as well as Russia, Japan and South Korea.

To shield domestic mills, India in March extended safeguard import taxes on some steel products until 2018 and has begun probing the possible dumping of cheap steel from China, Japan and South Korea.

Last month it also imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty on seamless tubes and pipes imported from China.

Countries including Japan, Taiwan, Canada and Australia have accused India of restrictive trade practices with the country’s steel import policies drawing wide criticism at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

A spokesman for the steel ministry said it was premature to discuss floor prices while the trade ministry, which decides whether MIP remains beyond August, was not immediately available for comment.

Recommendations that follow detailed investigations are generally accepted by the trade ministry.